The Canucks targeted two players who will come in and help their forward depth, two guys who are interchangeable in the bottom six role on the Canucks.
With the opening on the fourth line center ice position all season, after former-West coast express member Brendan Morrison exiled to Calgary for a bigger role, the Canucks had no proper replacement to fit in the fourth line.
Roles on the team:
Maxim Lapierre: fourth line centre, and occasional shifts on Manny Malhotra's wing if the situation arises. He has the speed and defensive instincts to play a penalty killing duty, lessening pressure on Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows on the PKs. He can take faceoffs with his respectable 53.4% winning rate on the season.
Chirs Higgins: fourth line winger with Tanner Glass and Lapierre. Higgins has been teammates with Lapierre before, and they're no strangers to each others play. Look for head coach Alain Vigneault to rekindle old chemistry between the two.
Higgins has the hands to play some shifts on the third line with Raffi Torres and Malhotra. He may even get a shot at replacing Mason Raymond on Ryan Kesler's second line left-wing if Raymond struggles. A very versatile player is what the Canucks got with Higgins.
Luckily, I've had the pleasure of staying two seasons in Montréal. Following the Canadiens under the spotlight was quite a special experience. They take hockey to a new level.
Unlike the Leaf Nation who really has had nothing to cheer for over six decades, I went through the Canadiens Centennial Year celebrations. Royal Canadian Mint designed a Canadiens loonie in celebration of the club's 24 Stanley Cup wins and a big boost to the atmosphere in town.
From what I know about Higgins and Lapierre, who both left La Belle Province not too long ago, the Canucks have now got some valuable, quality members at forward.
At the end of training camp in September of 2008 the Canadiens were getting set for their 100th NHL season. I can still remember listening to the FAN990, Montreal Sports Radio. They were ecstatic about Higgins. They felt it was Higgins' breakout year offensively on the Habs.
Tony Marinaro, who currently hosts an on-air show called "Montreal Forum" predicted that Higgins could reach 40 goals this season. Head coach Guy Carbonneau was also optimistic. Kostitsyns was one year older, Higgins would step up and D'Agostini and Pacioretty were coming up promisingly.
We all know that it did not exactly materialize, but the Canadiens did get into the playoffs, only to lose in the first round to the Boston Bruins.
As for Lapierre, the Messiah to save our fourth line that we have dreamed for so long has finally arrived. In Montréal, Lapierre was loved by his coaching staff as a "hard-nosed, gritty hockey player," who worked "extremely hard night after night."
While Lapierre will not score very many goals for his hockey club, he is very much like a Jannik Hansen or Glass on the Canucks; he gives a consistent effort each game and can really skate well.
Lapierre has the speed, and with a faceoff percentage of 53.4%, is very tough to play against. He finishes his checks, gets under the skin of opposing players (mainly due to his tenacity) and he can chirp at will. When asked about chirping he said, "If they want me to shut up, I'll do it."
After the trades, I received some strong reactions from Vancouver fans:
Voice of the Canucks Nation:
"Loved em both. The 4th line is soooo much better!" "Higgins is a great team guy as well." "Yea. Lost a little depth on D in Oberg tho. Should be fine." ~Todd Cordell, former-B/R lead writer, current SportsHaze Canada content manager via text message
"A good sign, he's buying in already!" (on Lapierre agreeing to shut his mouth if asked by coaches) ~EvoLu7ioN, member on Canucks.com forum
"Great trades today by netting Higgins and Lapierre that should solidify Vancouver's bottom 6 lines" ~Drewbro77, on twitter
"Luvin vancouver's acquisition....lapierre & burrows 2 big pests...and underachieving higgins can chip in wtv on 3rd or 4th lines" ~Drizzydre87, twitter
"Many props to Gillis for bringing in just what our roster needed. Higgins n lap will be perfect. And for cheap. Love it." ~Robertus97, twitter
Thanks for following your Vancouver Canucks.
This is Joseph Trenton.
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