Prospect Tyler Biggs wants to show he’s a Top-6 guy, Marlies roster full of 2011 draft picks

Tyler Biggs was selected 22nd overall in 2011 by former Leafs GM Brian Burke- Image Courtesy of Dave Abel

TORONTO– Prospect Tyler Biggs understands that there are expectations when you are a first-round selection.

That’s why the Ohio native wants to make the most of his current opportunity with the Toronto Marlies.

“I believe, potentially, I could be a Top-6 guy,” said Biggs. “I may not be a 40 or 50-goal scorer but I do believe I can score. I do have an offensive side and can open up things for my teammates with my physical game.”

Biggs is getting his first taste of pro hockey with the Marlies now that his season of junior has wrapped up. And depending on how well he transitions he could be part of a post-season run with the AHL club.

Drafted 22nd overall in 2011 by the Maple Leafs, Biggs transferred from Miami at Ohio University to the Ontario Hockey League’s Oshawa Generals for the 2012-13 season. He scored 26 goals and 53 points in 60 games, mostly playing on one of Oshawa’s top two lines, but registered only one assist in nine post-season games before bowing out in a second-round sweep by the Barrie Colts.

With nearly double the ice time in junior compare to university, Biggs was able to point out what he thought was the biggest difference between the two.

“Games played,” said Biggs. “I think that many (junior) games tests your body and mentality. I got a good taste of that and what it’s going to be like at the next level.”

At school, the soon-to-be 20-year-old made use of the weight room and bulked up his 6-foot-3 frame to 225 pounds. But, when he turned to junior he thought his added size may not be best for him and trimmed down.

“I’m down to about 215, 216,” he said. “I thought I should drop (because) I felt heavy.”

The summer between school, and joining the Generals, the power forward took lessons with Leafs skating coach Barbara Underhill, which, he says, has benefited his stride.

“It’s come a long way,” Biggs said. “My biggest difference is my stops and starts. There still things to work on but we’re getting there.”

Playing in the OHL not only gave Biggs the chance to play a pro-like schedule, it allowed him to use the grittier side of his game. With the NCAA being harsher on fighting than the OHL, he didn’t hesitate to show his physical abilities and tough side with the Generals as he dropped the gloves six times, including two instigators for sticking up for teammates.

Fighting, which is something Biggs wants to be part of his game and not the focus, isn’t new to him despite spending time in the NCAA.

At prospect camp last summer, two seconds into the first team scrimmage, he called on 6-foot-3 235-pound David Broll, who was selected by Toronto 152nd overall in the same draft.

“It was a good idea to get the camp started, motivate the guys more than anything,” said Biggs, who at that time was trying to impress former GM Brian Burke. “I know how great of a fighter he is. I know how tough he is. I just thought it was something to mix it up.”

“At prospect camp you’re trying to prove yourself,” said Broll, who has 24 career fights in four seasons in the OHL. “Obviously there’s competition. You’re pushing the guy beside you and you’re respected more when you do. It was showing the staff about what we could do.”

Despite being drafted five rounds behind Biggs, Broll has a leg up on the pro game after getting his first taste last season. This year he’s back after his Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds were sent home in the OHL playoffs by the Owen Sound Attack in the first round.

‘Yeah it was huge,” Broll said of his first stint in the AHL. “It was more of an eye opener. I was trying to come in and work hard and see what I could do. It’s a lifestyle for everyone here.”

Alongside Biggs and Broll, the Marlies have three other draft picks from 2011 on their current roster. Stuart Percy, Joshua Leivo and Garret Sparks, who each had their junior seasons end as well at some point over the last two weeks, are all showcasing their skills for Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins with the hope of impressing him, or at least earning more minutes on the ice.

“It’s team first, that has to be the mentality,” said Biggs. “For us there is inner drive to get bumped up on the lineup, but there also needs to be a pat on the pads for others too.”

“Everyone’s competition, but as a team it’s not about who you can beat, it’s about bringing success down the road,” added Broll.

Biggs, who has won gold at the U17’s, U18’s and a Junior World Championship with Team USA, has suited up twice for the Marlies and registered no points while playing on the fourth line.

With Eakins rotating his inflated roster, the rookie took a seat in the press box on Friday. However, Toronto hosts the St. John’s IceCaps in back-to-back contests this weekend and he will likely be in the lineup with an opportunity to show the Leafs where his potential stands right now.


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