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Chicago Blackhawks’ Matthew Highmore Can Complete Exciting Third Line

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CLEVELAND, OH - JANUARY 19: Rockford IceHogs left wing Matthew Highmore (9) is congratulated by Rockford IceHogs defenceman Adam Clendening (2), Rockford IceHogs center Luke Johnson (37), and Rockford IceHogs defenceman Ville Pokka (29) after scoring a goal during the third period of the American Hockey League game between the Rockford IceHogs and Cleveland Monsters on January 19, 2018, at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, OH. Rockford defeated Cleveland 4-3. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - JANUARY 19: Rockford IceHogs left wing Matthew Highmore (9) is congratulated by Rockford IceHogs defenceman Adam Clendening (2), Rockford IceHogs center Luke Johnson (37), and Rockford IceHogs defenceman Ville Pokka (29) after scoring a goal during the third period of the American Hockey League game between the Rockford IceHogs and Cleveland Monsters on January 19, 2018, at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, OH. Rockford defeated Cleveland 4-3. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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Chicago Blackhawks fans should be genuinely curious to see how Matthew Highmore fits into the lineup, should he play tonight against San Jose. The idea suggested by Daily Faceoff is appealing.

Forward Matthew Highmore was called up by the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday. The move’s impact was a bit blunted amid a poor season and the recently-passed trade deadline. But this is a call-up Blackhawks fans should be excited for.

Highmore is among Chicago’s leading forward prospects who actually can impact the NHL team in the near future. He’s getting a chance to do so now.

Highmore led the Rockford IceHogs with 35 points in 56 games and was piling up points in the QMJHL before this. Highmore is just 22 years old and fits into the mold the Blackhawks are trying to fill: young and quick.

The immediate question, of course, centers around where Highmore fits into the Blackhawks lineup. He really should be playing against San Jose, so we’ll find out more about this during a morning skate today. But a lineup-tracking website has a nice idea already in place.

Third-line dominance

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So, here’s what Daily Faceoff had suggested before any morning skate today: a third line of Alex DeBrincat, Nick Schmaltz and Matthew Highmore.

Yes, I realize the panic this will cause among those lamenting a lack of size and protection. But really, when you have a line that quick and talented in moving the puck, why would you need a hulking brute to shadow two other guys?

This line has the chance to abuse some bottom-six matchups. DeBrincat has proven among the Blackhawks’ most effective rookies since Patrick Kane, while Schmaltz continues to be more silently solid this season. Meanwhile, here’s what Dobber Prospects had to say in its latest Highmore update:

"Highmore’s rookie season continues to be an enviable one. From finishing second in the AHL’s fastest skater competition, to scoring a goal during the AHL’s All-Star game, to setting the Rockford IceHogs’ record for goals by a rookie, to leading his team in scoring, to sitting tied for second in rookie goal scoring overall. Highmore has been making it impossible for the Blackhawks to ignore him, earning his first NHL call up."

Why would anyone pass up this line opportunity, especially in a lost season? I know coach Joel Quenneville likes to have size/grit on as many lines as possible, but given that Ryan Hartman, Tommy Wingels and Lance Bouma all have been shown the door this week, he really doesn’t have much of a choice now.

This is a great opportunity for all three of these guys to gain some valuable confidence while also proving to the Blackhawks that an all-talent, all-speed, all-youth line can work.

Next: Reader Mailbag On Trade Deadline And Beyond

On a related note, I really hope Coach Q goes away from one of Daily Faceoff’s other lineup notes. Anthony Duclair and Tomas Jurco should switch spots between the second and fourth lines. I’d much rather see Duclair with Kane and Artem Anisimov than with Patrick Sharp and David Kampf.

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