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2019 Blackhawks Top 25 Under 25: Matthew Highmore at No. 23

A shoulder injury and subsequent surgery limited him to only 12 games in 2018-19.

Brad Repplinger - Second City Hockey

Second City Hockey’s 2019-20 preseason Blackhawks Top 25 Under 25 series ranks the organization’s top 25 players under the age of 25 by Oct. 1, 2019. The rankings are determined by a composite score from six SCH writers and more than 70 readers. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production against future projection to rank each player. The six SCH writers will make their ballots public after the series is completed.

Two years ago, just before the 2017 NHL trade deadline, three of the Rockford IceHogs top scorers were traded, freeing up space the Blackhawks filled by signing forward Matthew Highmore, while the then 21-year-old was torching the QMJHL for the Saint John Sea Dogs.

Highmore spent the next season as one of Rockford’s top scorers, notching 24 goals with 19 assists in 64 games. That impressive play earned Highmore a promotion to the Blackhawks in March 2018. He skated 13 games in Chicago, notching two goals.

But Highmore’s upward trend was rocked by a right shoulder injury suffered in late October. It required surgery in mid-November, which kept him on the shelf until April. He was the IceHogs’ leading scorer when he went down, with three goals and seven points in eight games. His late return (two assists in four games) wasn’t enough to boost Rockford into a playoff spot, though.

He still sounded upbeat in his exit interview:

What’s next?

Highmore was in the middle of the massive logjam of third and fourth-liners vying for a roster spot at the start of training camp last season. It’ll be the same battle for him this fall, as he looks to break camp with the NHL team. Even if he starts the season in the AHL, he could be one of the first players to be called up, should roster spots become available.

However, at 23 years old and with only one season remaining on his contract, time is running out for him to earn a more permanent spot in the organization.