Higgins clears waivers, Utica Comets coach ‘excited’ to get him

AP
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Chris Higgins has cleared waivers and is off to the AHL to join the Utica Comets.

Comets coach Travis Green is glad to be getting him.

“I’m excited,” Green told News 1130 in Vancouver. “Great player and leader. We want to get him back confident and back to the NHL.”

That’s obviously what Higgins is hoping for, too. Before he was placed on waivers, the 32-year-old winger had just two goals and one assist in 25 games for the Canucks.

Vancouver first tried, but ultimately failed, to trade Higgins, who’s signed through next season for a cap hit of $2.5 million. Only $950,000 of a cap hit can be buried in the AHL.

If the Canucks can’t find a trading partner for Higgins, they may opt to buy him out this summer. Doing so would garner an $833,333 cap hit next season and in 2017-18.

Though some might argue that keeping Higgins buried in the AHL next season would make more sense from a cap-management perspective — i.e., just one season of his contract on the books, as opposed to two — Higgins would probably prefer to be cut loose and become a free agent.

And the Canucks do feel a sense of loyalty to the veteran forward.

“Chris is a quality person who has been an important member of our team for nearly five seasons,” GM Jim Benning said Sunday. “Our focus has been on finding a positive new situation for him and we will continue to do so.”