|6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)|
203 lb (92 kg)
New York Rangers
|Born||June 2, 1983,|
Smithtown, NY, USA
|NHL Draft||14th overall, 2002|
|Pro Career||2003 – present|
Christopher Higgins (born June 2, 1983) is an American professional ice hockey winger with the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League (NHL). While playing college hockey, he was selected 14th overall by the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. He finished a two-year career with the Yale Bulldogs, earning ECAC Hockey Player of the Year honors as a sophomore, before turning professional for the 2003–04 season. After two seasons with the Canadiens' minor league affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League (AHL), he joined the NHL in 2005–06. He recorded three consecutive 20-goal seasons to begin his NHL career before being traded to the New York Rangers in June 2009. After brief stints with the Rangers, Calgary Flames and Florida Panthers, he joined the Canucks in February 2011. Internationally, Higgins has competed for the United States in two World Junior Championships (2002 and 2003) and one World Championship (2009).
Amateur career (1998–2003)
Higgins played four years of high school hockey for Avon Old Farms, a preparatory school in Avon, Connecticut, graduating in 2001. He then opted to play in the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) with the Yale Bulldogs. Higgins also considered offers from Boston College and Harvard University. In 2001–02, Higgins began a two-year stint with the Yale Bulldogs of the ECAC Hockey Conference. After recording a team-leading 31 points (14 goals and 17 assists) over 27 games as a freshman, he was named the ECAC Rookie of the Year. He additionally received ECAC All-Rookie and Second All-Star Team honors.
In the off-season, Higgins was selected 14th overall by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. He became the first ECAC Hockey player to be selected in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft since Normand Lacombe in 1983 (the Buffalo Sabres selected him 10th overall). Returning to Yale for one more season, he improved to 41 points over 28 games, leading his team in scoring for the second consecutive year. Higgins earned ECAC Player of the Year (co-recipient with Cornell Big Red goaltender David LeNeveu) and First All-Star Team honors; he was also recognized regionally on the NCAA East All-American Team.
Montreal Canadiens (2003–09)
Following his sophomore year, he signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Canadiens on May 22, 2003. Higgins made his NHL debut on October 11, 2003, registering three minutes of ice time in a 4–0 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Struggling to play his way onto the Canadiens' lineup, he was often made a healthy scratch in October before being assigned to the team's minor league affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League (AHL), by the end of the month. He recorded 48 points over 67 AHL games in 2003–04, ranking fifth in team scoring. Due to the 2004–05 NHL lockout, Higgins automatically remained in Hamilton and improved to 51 points, ranking third among Bulldogs scorers.
The following season, as NHL play resumed, Higgins made the Canadiens' roster out of training camp. He scored his first career NHL goal on October 6, 2005, against New York Rangers goalie Kevin Weekes during an away game at Madison Square Garden. The Canadiens won the contest 4–3 in overtime. He finished the season with 23 goals, ranking seventh among league rookies, and 15 assists for a total of 38 points.
A month into the 2006–07 season, Higgins suffered a sprained left ankle during a game against the New Jersey Devils. At the time of the injury, on November 4, 2006, he was leading the Canadiens with eight goals. Sidelined for 6 weeks, Higgins was limited to 61 games, though still managed to match his previous season's points total with 22 goals and 16 assists. Set to become a restricted free agent in the off-season, Montreal re-signed Higgins to a two-year, US$3.4 million deal on June 25, 2007. Prior to the start of the 2007–08 season, Higgins was named an alternate captain for the Canadiens. He went on to have a career season with personal bests of 27 goals, 25 assists and 52 points. On November 11, 2008, Higgins recorded his first NHL hat trick in a 4–0 win over the Ottawa Senators. However, his points total decreased in his fourth NHL campaign with 23 points over 57 games.
Post-Montreal (from 2009)
Coming off what was the lowest statistical season of his career, he was traded by the Canadiens, along with Ryan McDonagh, Pavel Valentenko and Doug Janik, to the New York Rangers in exchange for Scott Gomez, Tom Pyatt, and Michael Busto on June 30, 2009. A restricted free agent at the time of the trade, he agreed to a one-year, US$2.25 contract with the Rangers six days later. He scored his first goal with the Rangers on November 3, 2009, against the Vancouver Canucks, his team's lone marker in a 4–1 loss. His offensive struggles continued in New York (he recorded 15 points in 55 games) and he was subsequently traded to the Calgary Flames on February 2, 2010. Higgins was dealt, along with Aleš Kotalík, in exchange for Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust. He scored his first goal with the Flames on March 9, an empty netter in a 4–1 win against the Detroit Red Wings. Two days later, he suffered a foot injury that sidelined him for the remaining 14 games of the regular season. Splitting the season between New York and Calgary, he had 8 goals and 17 points over 67 games.
Becoming an unrestricted free agent in the off-season, Higgins signed a one-year, US$1.6 million deal with the Florida Panthers on July 2, 2010. He had considered re-signing with Calgary, but cited new Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon's experience as a strong factor for joining Florida (Tallon was largely responsible for assembling the Chicago Blackhawks team that won the Stanley Cup the previous season). After 48 games with his new club, he had recorded 11 goals and 23 points. With the Panthers out of playoff contention late in the season, the team began trading away numerous veterans and core players.
At the NHL trade deadline, on February 28, 2011, Higgins was dealt to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for defensive prospect Evan Oberg and a third-round draft pick in 2013. He scored his first two goals with the club on March 27 in a 4–1 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets. He completed the season with 13 goals and 28 points in 62 games between Florida and Vancouver. Higgins played the majority of the regular season with the Canucks as a bottom-six forward; by the playoffs, he was playing on the second line centred by Ryan Kesler. Entering the post-season as the Presidents' Trophy champions, the Canucks held the first seed in the West. After eliminating the Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks in the first three rounds, the Canucks advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals. Facing the Boston Bruins, the series went to a seventh game, which the Canucks lost 4–0. Following the Canucks' defeat, it was revealed that several players had been playing with injuries, including Higgins. His injury occurred in the second round against the Predators, when he blocked a shot with his skate, breaking his foot. Over 25 playoff games, Higgins recorded 4 goals and 8 points.
During the off-season, Higgins re-signed with Vancouver to a two-year, $3.8 million contract on July 1, 2011, prior to his scheduled unrestricted free agency.
Higgins played in back-to-back World Junior Championships during his college career. First appearing in 2002, he recorded four goals and two assists over seven games. He helped the United States qualify for the quarterfinal, where they were eliminated by Russia 6–1. The following year, Higgins matched his points total with three goals and three assists. After losing their semifinal to Canada 3–2, the United States lost by the same score to Finland in the bronze medal game.
Higgins made his first international appearance for the American men's team at the 2009 IIHF World Championship. He scored his only goal of the tournament in a 4–3 overtime loss to Switzerland in the qualifying round. After losing their semifinal game to Russia, the United States lost the bronze medal to Sweden by a 4–2 score.
Listed at 6 feet (1.83 meters) tall and 203 pounds (92 kilograms), Higgins plays mostly in the style of a power forward. He is known as a two-way player with good skating, capable of contributing offensively while remaining defensively responsible. He has alternated between playing the wing and center positions. Early in his career, he was compared to Dallas Stars forward Brendan Morrow.
Higgins grew up in Smithtown, New York, the second eldest among five siblings. His father, Robert, is a New York City firefighter and his younger brother is a New York City police officer.
Higgins played on minor hockey teams with former Canadiens teammate Mike Komisarek and former Flames teammate Eric Nystrom, both of whom he remains close friends with. He was a student of Lithuanian hockey coach Aleksey Nikiforov at hockey camps in his teenage years. Though he grew up on Long Island, Higgins was a Montreal Canadiens fan as a child, following after his father; his favorite players on the team were goaltender Patrick Roy and captain Kirk Muller.
Higgins left home to join the high school hockey program of Avon Old Farms in Connecticut. Following his high school graduation, Higgins was enrolled in Yale University for two years, majoring in political science while playing on the school's hockey team.
Regular season and playoffs
|1999–00||Avon Old Farms||USHS||27||19||20||39||10||—||—||—||—||—|
|2000–01||Avon Old Farms||USHS||24||22||13||35||12||—||—||—||—||—|
|2009–10||New York Rangers||NHL||55||6||8||14||32||—||—||—||—||—|
|2002||United States U20||WJC||7||4||2||6||6|
|2003||United States U20||WJC||7||3||3||6||4|
|Junior int'l totals||14||7||5||12||10|
|Senior int'l totals||6||1||0||1||2|
- Chris Higgins. The Sports Network. Retrieved on 2011-03-03.
- Bob Snow. "Higgins credits college as key to his success", National Hockey League, 2008-12-11. Retrieved on 2011-03-18.
- "Canadiens agree to terms with 2002 first-rounder Higgins", Sports Illustrated, 2003-05-22. Retrieved on 2011-03-03.
- Chris Higgins - Notes. National Hockey League. Retrieved on 2011-03-18.
- Canadiens vs. Maple Leafs Boxscore. Montreal Canadiens. Retrieved on 2011-03-02.
- 2003-04 Hamilton Bulldogs (AHL). Hockeydb.com. Retrieved on 2011-03-02.
- 2004–05 Hamilton Bulldogs (AHL). Hockeydb.com. Retrieved on 2011-03-02.
- Ryder's goal lifts Canadiens over Rangers in OT. ESPN (2005-10-06). Retrieved on 2011-03-02.
- Rookie Goals 2005-06. National Hockey League. Retrieved on 2011-03-02.
- Ankle sidelines Higgins. The Montreal Gazette (2006-11-07). Retrieved on 2011-03-02.
- "Habs' Higgins, Komisarek back for 2 more years", Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 2007-06-15. Retrieved on 2011-03-02.
- Chris Higgins. Hockey Hall of Fame. Retrieved on 2011-03-18.
- "Higgins pots hat trick as Habs blank Senators", The Vancouver Sun, Postmedia Network, 2008-11-12. Retrieved on 2011-03-18.
- Montreal Canadiens acquire Scott Gomez from New York Rangers. ESPN (2009-06-30). Retrieved on 2009-07-01.
- "Rangers agree to terms with LW Higgins on new deal", USA Today, 2009-07-06. Retrieved on 2011-03-02.
- Rangers vs. Canucks Boxscore. New York Rangers (2009-11-03). Retrieved on 2011-03-18.
- Flames vs. Red Wings Boxscore. Calgary Flames (2010-03-09). Retrieved on 2011-03-18.
- "Chris Higgins signs with Florida Panthers", ESPN, 2010-07-02. Retrieved on 2011-03-02.
- "Fire sale in Florida at deadline day", The Globe and Mail, Phillip Crawley, 2011-02-28. Retrieved on 2011-03-18.
- Canucks acquire Chris Higgins from the Florida Panthers. Vancouver Canucks (2011-02-28). Retrieved on 2011-02-28.
- "Canucks down Blue Jackets to reach 50 victories for first time", The Sports Network, 2011-03-27. Retrieved on 2011-03-28.
- Manasso, John. "Canucks' second line comes through", National Hockey League, 2011-05-04. Retrieved on 2011-06-17.
- "Canucks' Hamhuis will need surgery; Ehrhoff avoids knife", The Sports Network, 2011-06-17. Retrieved on 2011-06-17.
- Pap, Elliott. "Canucks re-sign Salo and Higgins; grab Marco Sturm for one year", The Vancouver Sun, Postmedia News, 2011-07-11. Retrieved on 2011-07-02.
- 2002 IIHF World U20 Championship Results. International Ice Hockey Federation. Retrieved on 2011-03-18.
- 2003 IIHF World U20 Championship Results. International Ice Hockey Federation. Retrieved on 2011-03-18.
- Game Summary (PDF). International Ice Hockey Federation. Retrieved on 2011-03-02.
- "Game Summary" (PDF), International Ice Hockey Federation, 2009-05-10. Retrieved on 2011-03-18.
- Guy Flaming. "Q & A with Chris Higgins", HockeysFuture.com, 2004-10-18. Retrieved on 2011-03-18.
- "New Canuck Chris Higgins aims to reignite career in Vancouver", The Vancouver Sun, Postmedia Network, 2011-03-02. Retrieved on 2011-03-02.
- Chris R. Vaccaro. "Matt Gilroy and Chris Higgins", Long Island Pulse, 2009-11-28. Retrieved on 2011-03-18.
- "Better known a newbie: Chris Higgins", The Province, Postmedia Network, 2011-02-28. Retrieved on 2011-03-18.
- "Higgins: I just want to help", The Toronto Sun, Sun Media. Retrieved on 2011-03-02.
- "Back on the map", New York Bobcats. Retrieved on 2011-03-18.
- Chris Higgins's career stats at Eliteprospects.com
- Chris Higgins's NHL player profile
- Christopher Higgins's biography at Legends of Hockey
- Chris Higgins's career stats at The Internet Hockey Database
- Christopher Higgins on TSN.ca
|Montreal Canadiens first round draft pick
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