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Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks’ Matthew Highmore reliably adds needed depth

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Matthew Highmore #36, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
Matthew Highmore #36, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images) /
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There’s room for improvement with the Blackhawks’ roster, but it’s the bottom-6 that has looked the most consistently questionable.

As the Chicago Blackhawks look to find younger players to rejuvenate the team, finding reliable depth players has been as much of a challenge as finding top-line talent. Matthew Highmore might just be one of the role players Chicago needs.

Stats:

Age: 24
Contract: Highmore is under contract for several more years with Chicago, and will become an RFA in 2022-2023.
Games Played: 36
Goals: 2
Assists: 4

Rating for the year: C+

For most of the season, Highmore was just a guy. His numbers during the regular season weren’t great, but to use a well-worn cliche, “he took a step this year”. Last year he only played 13 games with Chicago, but that was moved up to 36 this season. He has probably secured himself a spot on the opening night roster with his playoff performance.

Highmore was signed as a free agent and was likely never intended to be more than a depth player. People may complain about this, but he’s one of Bowman’s acquisitions. Make of that what you will.

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At least on the surface, he had a great postseason. He certainly didn’t crumble in the face of the pressure, and he put up a few points along the way.

This performance was probably him punching above his weight a bit. His postseason Shooting % was an absurd 37.5%, and it’s an understatement to say this isn’t sustainable. By contrast, his S% was 5.7%, and that’s closer to the truth.

Highmore is likely going to be a regular in the lineup for the short-term future, and that’s ok. He’s a hard-working consistent player and the kind of inexpensive depth that Chicago sorely needs right now.

Without diving too far into the advanced metrics, his possession statistics aren’t good. I’d say that the eye test matches those numbers. His puck management was a bit spotty at times, and it will need to improve if he’s going to be around Chicago for any kind of term.

Future With The Team

Fourth line players are fairly easy to replace, but if Highmore can step up his game, then he should part of the Chicago’s plans for years to come. If he can’t improve much beyond what we’ve seen, he’ll likely be fighting for ice time sooner rather than later.

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The fact that he didn’t wilt when the pressure was on against Vegas and Edmonton is important, and he’ll probably return a better player next season because of that. For Chicago fans, here’s to looking forward to him developing his game further, and hoping that Highmore comes back to the team ready to pick up where he left off in 2019-2020.

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