Wednesday, June 22, 2011

2011 Draft: Tyler Biggs Has The Size But Does He Have The Upside To Right For Rangers?

The 2011 draft is only two days away, and the Rangers scouting and front office staff is looking through many prospects to see who they want to select with the 15th overall selection.  With the current state of the Rangers defense both at the NHL and prospect level one would expect that New York will look for offense in the first round of the draft hoping to find an impact scorer.  There are a number of offensive prospects that could be available at 15.  We have already looked at Mark Scheifele, Mark McNeill, Zack Phillips, Joel Armia, Sven Bartschi, Ty Rattie, Matt Peumpel, Vladislav Namestnikov and Rocco Grimaldi for their potential fits for the Rangers.
One name that has been connected to the New York Rangers quite a bit recently is Tyler Biggs of the US National Development Team.  Being 6’2” and 210 pounds there is a natural reason to connect him to the Rangers as they need size in the organization and a power forward for the future.  He has shown a willingness to play in the dirty areas and uses his size in front.
Beyond his sheer size, Biggs is most known for his leadership abilities and willingness to stand up for his teammates.  Those are both excellent qualities to have in a young player, but they don’t necessarily make a player worthy of the #15 pick in the draft.  There are concerns about his hands and ability to score which have some questioning what the upside is for him offensively.
Jess Rubenstein of The Prospect Park thinks that Biggs is the perfect complement to a line with Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan down the line.  I have great respect for Jess and the work he does in understanding so many prospects in the organization and the draft process, but I think it is a little early to start drafting for the possibility of pairing Biggs with Kreider and Stepan.  If he is the best player on the board, then take him and hope for the combination to develop down the road, but you cannot start taking for need and hoping the player develops into what you think he can become.
Scouts Take:
Biggs certainly merits consideration as a prospect due to his size, physical play, skating ability and determination. It’s difficult though to see him as a first rounder since he does not possess the offensive skills that would be worthy of such a high pick. Biggs may only top out as a 15-20 goal guy who can provide some grit and nastiness which fits nicely on some clubs but the ceiling doesn’t seem high enough to justify anything other than the second round.
25. Tyler Biggs, RW U.S. NTDP (USHL) 6-2, 210 04/30/1993
Victimized by unrealistic expectations, Biggs could end up proving a lot of the critics wrong. We don't buy into the belief that he killed his stock at the World Under-18 tourney- we just don't feel that it was as high with the NHL teams out there as Central scouting led everyone to believe when they ranked him fifth overall among North American skaters on their midterm list. He lives up to his last name- a powerful skater and battering ram who plays the game like a legitimate power forward. When Biggs is on top of his game, he bulls his way to the net, spins and cycles effortlessly while protecting the puck from defenders powerless to separate him from it, and unleashes a rocket shot that is heavy and hurts. Unfortunately, scouts are unsure of his hockey sense and ability to create for himself. That's one of those aspects of hockey that is extremely tough to project and Biggs could very well end up being a legitimate top-six forward someday- he can skate, hit and fight. But there are enough concerns about his upside that keep him from being a top-20 guy in our view. However, he is extremely close- the margin between his not making the cut is razor-thin as any one of the players ahead of him at 21-24 could all make the case to be inside the top-20. He's a good player, but how good is the big question on draft day.
The Rangers do need size in their lineup and a big bodied power forward is something the organization has been looking to find for a long time now, which makes Biggs an intriguing possibility, but just not the right choice at #15.  When picking #15 there should be more upside to a player than there is with Biggs.  It is certainly possible that like with most bigger players it will take him longer to put the total package together and going to the University of Miami is an excellent move for him, but there should be players on the board with more to get than him in that spot.  If the Rangers can move down a little in the first and gain something for it, then taking Biggs would not seem like the stretch it feels like in this spot.
Biggs was the instant selection when I asked The Prospect Park’s Jess Rubenstein about his thoughts on the draft a couple of days ago, citing Biggs’ ability to come up big in key games as one particular reason for his choice. It’s hard to argue either; Biggs has competed in two Under-18 World Championships, winning gold in 2010 and ’11, scoring a crucial overtime winner, his second of the night, against Canada in the semi-finals this year.
I love the leadership aspect of Biggs’ game, but I’d personally like to see the Rangers go with a higher offensive ceiling when picking amongst the likes of Armia, Baertschi, McNeill and Scheifele. The Rangers have grinders, guys that lay it all on the line for the cause, and though you can never have enough of a good thing it’s hard to pass on more talented guys should they be available.