Second City Hockey’s 2020-21 preseason Blackhawks Top 25 Under 25 series ranks the organization’s top 25 players under the age of 25 by Oct. 1, 2020. The rankings are determined by a composite score from three SCH writers and community member, L_B_R. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production against future projection to rank each player. All four ballots will be released after the series is completed.
Highmore reached his highest ranking on what’ll be his final appearance on the Top 25 Under 25 list (he turns 25 next February). That’s due, in part, to a three-goal performance in nine playoff games. Highmore contributed more offensively to the Blackhawks’ postseason run than a few players who were ranked higher on this list.
Highmore may never be more than he was during that postseason run, however. He looks to be a long-term fourth line forward and someone who can play some penalty killing minutes. But he’ll likely be one of the bigger offensive threats on the Blackhawks’ fourth line, a player who can be relied on to chip in a goal here and there.
Highmore demonstrated the ability to get to high-danger areas both in the regular season and in the playoffs and was more efficient as a playoff rookie than other, more experienced players.
While playing in the AHL last season, Highmore also had the No. 3 points-per-game mark on the IceHogs this season at 0.57, trailing Dylan Sikura (0.73) and John Quenneville (0.61). With a 5.7 shot percentage in the NHL in the regular season — compared to 16.7 in the AHL — there is room for Highmore to improve next season (he had a 37.5 percent mark in the postseason).
Highmore doesn’t have the highest ceiling on this list, but he’s already making an NHL impact. While he might never rise above the fourth line, he can be a reliable contributor in that role.
Highmore should spend the 2020-21 season on the Blackhawks’ fourth line, most likely with David Kampf and Ryan Carpenter. He’ll look to be a long-term member of the Blackhawks’ bottom six.