Other than this opening paragraph, the following topics are not going to be mentioned in this particular article; John Gibson, Brandon Saad, any other prospect from the 2011 Entry Draft, Brian Burke, Dave Morrison, asset management, NHLe for forwards in their Draft +2 year, and Hitler.
So with all of that out of the way, why is Tyler Biggs ranked 16th, when the perception is most of the people responsible for this list are not big fans of him?
Let's start with what we know; At 6'3" and around 225 lbs, and having just turned 20 years old, Biggs has NHL size, and being so young he could still potentially add more bulk. Biggs is a strong and physical player, not necessarily dishing out big hits, but he's a ferocious forechecker and not afraid to mix it up.
Additionally, he's capable of playing in a defensive role; when playing for Team USA at the World Junior Champiionships, Biggs was primarily used in a 4th line role, killing penalties and expected to bring lots of energy on the forecheck. For a big guy, Biggs is a strong skater, too.
What do we think? We think Biggs doesn't provide a ton of offensive upside (but according to my groundrules, I can't elaborate on this point). We also think that Biggs possesses a lot of skills and playing traits that will make him a successful NHL forward in some capacity, and that will mesh well with the Leafs preferred playing style.
So we have a prospect with limited offensive upside, but with size, strong skating, a physical edge, and strong defensive awareness. He's a low-risk proposition; he lacks the upside to be an impact power forward, but could have a very successful career as a bottom-six forward.
So, given what we've already seen in our countdown, and given what we've just said we expect Tyler Biggs to become, let's circle back to the first question - why is Biggs 16th?
It's important to keep in mind that at this stage in the countdown, we are still dealing with pretty small differences between the likelihood of the players reaching their potential. Even though Biggs comes in at #16, Brad Ross was #20 and David Broll was #27, they are all fairly comparable.
So when looking at this group, we felt, collectively, Biggs had a better shot of making it than guys like Dominic Toninato or Connor Brown, he could become a more useful player than guys like David Broll or Andrew Crescenzi, he has a better chance of being an NHL forward than Brad Ross, and he's younger than Carter Ashton.
In this sense, Biggs could almost be considered a cut-off guy; Biggs lands at the top of the "maybe" pile; maybe these guys will become NHL players, maybe they can't overcome the odds working against them. The 15 guys ahead of him are all further along in their development and seem poised to be players of significance; we believe Biggs is the best of whatever is left.
Biggs' ranking is a function of having just enough people placing him high up in the Top 20 to offset the few low rankings he also picked up. Biggs was all over the place in his rankings; Chemmy moved him from not ranked to 14th, while JP Nikota dropped him from 20th to just barely ranked at 30th. Meanwile, he stayed exactly where he was at 18th on my rankings.
It's no secret that I'm not big on Biggs. I think that while third and fourth line players generally come from failed first round picks that drafting players with the ceiling makes no sense.
Why's he ranked here then? Because the Leafs love him and I think he'll probably be granted undeserved chances to make the team down the road. I try to make my rankings to match what I think a table of contributors/players to the Leafs would look like and I think we'll see Biggs on the Leafs soon.
[original comments redacted for breaking two of the ground rules for this post] I don't have much faith in him becoming a prospect of any significance.
Biggs' total of 114 points gave him a 5 point cushion over Toninato, but as I alluded ot earlier, Biggs represent a cut-off point from the next tier of prospects. I haven't checked but I'm positive that the 39 point difference between Biggs and our 15th ranked prospect is the biggest such gap we have ever had in our countdown (but that's also influenced by having two extra participants this time around).
Biggs heads to the Marlies this season to begin his professional career, and with greater opportunities to view his progress, Leaf fans will have a much better sense of where he is in his development, and how close he is to becoming a prospect that can play in the NHL.