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PPP's Top 25 Under 25 - #21 Tyler Biggs

The controversial Tyler Biggs is 21 on our list of the top 25 Maple Leafs prospects. He's left the NCAA to join the Oshawa Generals.

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It's probably a good thing that we end the week with Tyler Biggs, because this is going to be a divisive ranking.

So far in the Top 25, after eliminating prospects that we felt don't have enough upside (or haven't shown enough yet) to be significant contributors in the NHL. The four players inducted into the Top 25 feature two undrafted forwards that probably don't possess the offensive skills to succeed in other than a fourth-line role, a 24 year-old 5'9" playmaker who has eight whole pro games experience, and a 19 year old defenceman playing in Sweden who is at least two years away from even challenging for a spot.

This is where an optimist would say "So why is Tyler Biggs down here so low? None of the guy's so far are likely to be key contributors. Biggs is young and could become a Milan Lucic - type power forward" And it's true. Tyler Biggs could still become that type of player. Biggs is only 19 years old.

Here's where a pessimist would respond "The year after Milan Lucic got drafted, he scored a point a game for the Vancouver Giants. Biggs went to Miami and scored 17 points in 37 games. Milan Lucic is an outlier, he's not the norm for power forward development."

To date, we don't have any real evidence that Tyler Biggs can score at the level of his best-case projection as a future Top 6 Power Forward. We have to rely on the other skills he has shown, which given his significant size and strong skating, should be able to land him a role as a rugged bottom six winger. That, unfortunately for him, puts him in the same range as many of the prospects we have already reviewed and are about to review, which is why he takes a fall in our rankings down to #21.

The unfortunate thing for Tyler Biggs is that he's the unfortunate target of a lot of misdirected anger; Leaf fans, upset with the Leafs decision to take their 30th and 39th selections and trade them to move up to 22nd to take Biggs, have held his play to a higher standard than the player picked by the Leafs 25th overall, Stuart Percy. Because the Leafs chose to sacrifice two picks of approximately equal quality for one that was of only marginally better quality, costing them the chance to take much better offensive players such as Zach Phillips, Rickard Rakell, or Brandon Saad, I think to certain pockets of the fanbase Biggs' production gets evaluated as compared to what could have been achieved by having those two other picks.

And in a way I do think that is a little unfair towards Biggs. He didn't ask the Leafs to leapfrog eight spots so they could take him and Percy, as described in a previous interview with scouting director Dave Morrison. But Biggs hasn't done himself any favours by not contributing much in the way of offence.

Prior Rank JP Nikota PPP Chemmy SkinnyFish birky Plea From A Cat Named Felix clrkaitken Rank
17 20 24 NR 20 18 16 18 21

Biggs went from scratching his way into top 15 on most lists to clawing to stay in the top 20. Six of seven voters dropped their ranking from the winter; only JP Nikota bumped him up, from #21 to #20. Three people dropped him at least five spots, and Chemmy dropped him entirely from his rankings.

Tyler Biggs put up very similar numbers as an NCAA freshman as undrafted Spencer Abbott. He reminds me a lot of Philippe Paradis and is a cautionary tale about drafting kids for being physical.

Biggs is a pretty polarizing figure for reasons I still don't understand. His defenders will say "Detroit was interested" as if the Red Wings first round drafting record is something to be proud of, but in reality the Leafs left consensus better players in Zack Phillips and Brandon Saad on the board. Since being drafted Biggs did next to nothing at Miami while Saad put up 1.72 ppg in the OHL and Phillips scored 1.33 ppg in the Q.

In the OJHL, USHL and NCAA Biggs struggled to break half a point per game and regardless of your views on projections it's not hard to realize that he's not going to score "more" in the NHL than he did in the USHL.

You may not be able to teach size, but you almost certainly can't teach scoring either.

While I personally think Chemmy is being particularly harsh in not ranking Biggs at all, I do think he makes a number of good points about the reality of Biggs' situation. But he missed a crucial one.

Tyler Biggs has signalled his intent to leave Miami for the pros, and coming directly from the NCAA he can take advantage of a loophole that could allow him to play in the AHL as a 19 year old. Or he will report to the Oshawa Generals of the OHL. The OHL should not be seen as a step up in competition in this instance. The season might be twice as long, but Biggs would go from being an 18 year old playing against men aged 18 - 24 years old, to being a 19 year old playing against young men aged 16 - 20. If you believe that Biggs going to the OHL and delivering a point a game is a sign of growth, I think you are discounting the level of the NCAA. Point a game as a 19 year old, with his size and strength, should be the minimum expectation.

I'd honestly be more impressed in Biggs' future pro potential if he was able to hang in there in the AHL, against extremely stiff competition for ice time. If he has to follow Jerry D'Amigo's post-NCAA development path so be it, but his time to be considered a meaningful prospect is short.