Matthew Highmore finally achieved his lifelong dream on March 2nd, 2017 by signing a contract with an NHL team.
After going undrafted, his production in the QMJHL was could not go unnoticed any longer.
Highmore ended 7th in the Q in points in 2016-17 with 89 points. He followed that up with a QMJHL championship contributing 24 points in the playoffs in 18 games.
The Nova Scotia native has always had skill with a history on being a really strong playmaker. However, along with his lack of size in the juniors, he battled some injuries and remained in no-man's land.
He now stands at 5'11 / 181 lbs, which is more than adequate in today's NHL. After watching his hard-nosed work ethic and tendency to play bigger than his profile card indicates, I personally have no doubt that his size isn't an issue.
Highmore got off to a hot start in his first pro season in Rockford and didn't let up as he led the team in goals (24) and Powerplay tallies (8), ending with 43 points in 64 games. Which, for the first time in his career where he more goals than assists.
After Wingels, Bouma and Hartman were moved off the roster in February, Highmore got a nice 13-game stint in with the big club.
He ended up with 2-goals and, as expected, had some up-and-down games.
Highmore was shooting a lot and showed promise with his 2-way game from the wing, even getting some PK time in.
He played both centre and wing in RFD last year and was one of Colliton's go-to guys in all situations and Quenneville was showing he liked that versatility as well.
The line that resonated with me the most when he was getting the callup was from his former Saint John Sea Dogs coach Danny Flynn: "He reminds me a lot of Phillip Danault at his age. He's a solid two-way centre," said Flynn. It should be noted that Flynn coached Danault in Moncton in the Q in 2012-13.
Oh, Phillip Danault… thee
Phillip Danault. We don't need to go down that path again of how we all hated that trade from Stan Bowman. What we can do is hope that Matthew Highmore has a lot of Danault-esque tendencies that translate into the NHL.
Past Blackhawks' crushes aside, let's get to the real question of this blog; Will Matthew Highmore make the Chicago Blackhawks this year?
If no moves are made from here until training camp, I believe it is a toss-up between Highmore and Ejsdell for an opening day spot for a spot on the wing in the top 9.
This could come down to what the Hawks are looking for exactly in terms of skill set.
Ejdsell is a shooter with versatility as a centre or winger; more likely the as the latter to start his NHL carer. He's a bigger body and could make the opening roster as a triggerman if he gels with a playmaker like Sikura, Schmaltz or even Kane.
I believe if Highmore has more intangibles as he plays a more 200 foot game with the ability to play up the middle and/or either wing (and did so with consistency for most of his 1st year in Rockford).
After re-watching Highmore's games with Chicago, what I noticed about his game was that he had a high motor and a… wait for it… relentless
His speed would be a big differentiator from Ejdsell as well. Highmore was an AHL All-Star last year (even scored a goal in the game) and got to participate in the skills competition; He placed 2nd in the faster skater competition.
My impression was that the Hawks were looking to get younger and faster with the flurry of moves over the last couple of years. The faster part would come in the form of Highmore and his forecheck is so desperately needed.
I say, "Yes" to Highmore making an impact as a bottom-6 forward at some point during the season. He could offer speed, penalty killing ability and scoring depth on the 3rd or 4th line.
If he isn't getting consistent playing time though in the NHL, he's best served to continue to hone his craft with Colliton in Rockford. I know the IceHogs would welcome their leading goal scorer back and another quick start would have him back up with the Hawks by Christmas.
What say you? Does Matthew Highmore make the Blackhawks (in October or in the 1st half of the season)?
(courtesy of Elite Prospects)
Brandon Davidson PTO Invite:
I really wish I saved my Blake Hillman or Henri Jokiharju articles until after the exciting Brandon Davidson PTO news yesterday.
Well, Davidson's coming in on a PTO and even though it sounds like he's got a 1-year / 1-way deal on the table if he plays well, he's still not a lock to make the team.
Davidson has some size at 6'2 / 217 lbs and decent mobility. He is a left-handed shot and if he makes the team will slot in as a bottom pairing or extra defenceman.
With the injury to Gustav Forsling, this opened up a move for a PTO like this. There were rumours that Luca Sbisa was on Stan's hitlist, but this invitation would spell the end of those talks.
I know there's a lot of hate out there for Stan, but even if Davidson isn't signed, it appears the Hawks are looking to add some depth and size on the backend. With all the complaining about the Hawks D being so soft, you can't be mad at that.
Davidson is a hard-hitting, defensive-minded player which at 1-year (with an assumed 750k-1M deal) is a low-risk move. He was once touted as one of Edmonton's top 2-way defenders coming up through the system as he leap-frogged other top prospects by solidifying himself as a top pairing, shutdown guy in Oklahoma City (EDM farm team).
He's also 27-years old, so if he performs well could fit into future plans as a depth dman if he becomes a Q favourite.
Thoughts on this move to bring him to camp?
See ya out there!