We do see different things. How do you find his defensive game at center?
See, the main issue for me is that Higgins, despite being a hard-worker, can go through a stretch of games where he's just not involved in the play. When he's playing the center position, that forces him to be involved, and I think that forces his fundamentals to come out and thrive. I really like Higgins' work defensively and ability to move the puck quickly coming out of the zone.
He's not the greatest puck distributor when you're looking for creativity or offensive production, but he's just fine at spotting the open man for a short crisp pass. That's what I like in Higgins' game.
As far as Higgins being forced to be the high man because he's the C... well, I don't think that's accurate. As it stands, he's more often the first backchecker as opposed to Koivu. Depends on his linemates.
Well, his defence at C is fine enough, from what I remember. It's the rest of his game that I didn't like. I found his linemates' game suffered as well because he just didn't get them the puck.
It's bad enough that he drifts in and out of the play for weeks at a time as a W. I think he does it because he thinks too much and tries to do too much. Playing C is a lot of responsibility. He's the guy who carries his linemates -- or at the very least he has to enable them. If anything, rather than taking on more responsibility that he doesn't have the skillset to carry, I think he would be a better, more consistent player if he simplified his game on the W.
We're actually talking about the same sorts of things, just inside-out. I see your point that he would have to be involved in the play, and thus focused. It's a good point. It's a glib counterpoint, but I see it more as the play having to involve him, and everyone else in the play, especially his linemates, having to adjust accordingly. I mean, that's pretty glib, but it's just to say that we're looking at the same Coke bottle through different ends.
Admittedly I've only seen a small sample. It's really one of these questions that must be answered by a coaching commitment to try Higgins at C for at least half a season. It could be that he'd be a good C. Again, I don't see it, and as the coach I wouldn't try him there unless I was stuck. But as a fan, if Higgins did play C, I'd want him to succeed for all the reasons you give, and then some.