2011 NHL Draft Prospects: No. 22 Tyler Biggs

Although the program’s success in recent years has increased, the United States National Team Developmental Program has not yet churned out a dominant NHL player. That may all change this year when right wing Tyler Biggs is selected in the first round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound forward from Binghamton, New York is arguably the best American prospect this summer. Although his 11 points in 20 United States League games may not endear him to any statistic enthusiasts, it is not just a player’s points total that makes him attractive to NHL scouts.

“He has size, a great shot and skates well…he’ll play at the next level,” an NHL scout says. “I don’t think he has the type of skills to create chances on his own. At least he really hasn’t shown that. What you can project with him is the ability to come in as a third- or fourth-line player on a good team, learn the defensive game, use his strength and take baby steps with the NHL.”

USA Hockey executive Jim Johannson says that Biggs’ game reminds him of Mike Keane, but with more offensive upside. But just like Keane, Biggs has the ability to stand up for himself and his teammates and can drop the gloves when necessary. According to HockeyFights.com, Biggs has participated in six USHL fights in the past two seasons.

Biggs’ strengths include his work ethic, his hockey sense, and his ability to finish plays, be it passing, scoring, or throwing the body. His big, bulky body is unusual for a player of his age, but is a huge plus when it comes to playing the game. Numerous scouting outlets are projecting him as a future NHL first-liner at best, with the worst-case scenario being a second-line winger. The team captain of the USNTDP squad, Biggs has already committed to play for the University of Miami in Ohio for the 2011-12 season. The dynamic power forward can expect to continue his success at the U.S. collegiate level. And the main reason why has nothing to do with skill.

“He’s an honest, hard-working player,” an NHL scout says. “He has a big-time release, getting his shot off in traffic, which you have to count as a skill. He works really well along the boards and in the corners – same thing, if getting 50-50 pucks 70 percent of the time is a skill, then he’s skilled. Does he have a great stick in terms of flashy moves in the open ice or anything like that? No. Does he use it effectively in less obvious ways? Yeah. He’s an honest player. If there’s been off games, it’s not that he hasn’t given it the effort. If it hasn’t happened for him all game, he’s still trying to make it happen right down to the last shift.”

Alan Bass, a writer for The Hockey News and THN.com, is the author of The Great Expansion: The Ultimate Risk That Changed The NHL Forever. He has worked for the Philadelphia Flyers’ Fan Development department, going to schools throughout the tri-state area to teach about fitness and the importance of teamwork. He is the General Manager of the Muhlenberg College Division II hockey team as well. You can contact him at Alanbasswriting@aol.com.

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