Prospect Tyler Biggs’ future is at centre and not the wing

Tyler Biggs is carving out his role as a centreman with the Marlies- Image courtesy of Christian Bonin at TSGPhoto

Tyler Biggs is carving out his role as a centreman with the Marlies- Image courtesy of Christian Bonin at TSGPhoto

February 3, 2015

TORONTO– Tyler Biggs has found a way to keep himself in the everyday lineup for the Marlies.

The 21-year-old struggled early this season to crack a spot in Toronto and was demoted to the ECHL. After being recalled in December, however, Biggs has since been able to keep himself on the Marlies roster by carving out a role as the team’s fourth line centre.

“He’s got more confidence in making plays now and you can even see it in the face-off circle,” said Marlies coach Gord Dineen. “The first couple games he wasn’t assertive but now he’s winning his fair share of draws.”

Biggs was originally drafted by Toronto as a winger and through his first pro season was experimented with at the centre position on the penalty kill. But now it seems it could be the position the organization wants him to master moving forward.

The Marlies currently have an abundance of wingers with higher skill sets than Biggs. The team has also had a hole down the middle of its lineup almost all season, which allowed Dineen to shift six-foot-three 225 pound forward.

“He’s been more assertive with the puck, holding onto it longer, it’s a confidence issue,” said Dineen. “He’s a big, strong man when he’s carrying the puck and he’s a hard guy to knock off the puck.”

“Being defensively responsible is kind of the way I’ve always been as a player and maybe it’s the right spot for my game,” Biggs said when first asked to shift spots.

This past weekend, in a home-and-home series against the Utica Comets, Biggs centred a fourth line that had Troy Bodie on one side and Frazer McLaren and Colton Orr rotate on the other.

With the Marlies, and Maple Leafs, stressing this season the importance of being able to roll four lines, Dineen was pleased with how Biggs and his wingers played and didn’t shorten the bench in the third period of either contest.

“They were great, last night too,” Dineen said Saturday after the second game. “They had some good zone time, structurally they played well and they’re a big strong line that gets a lot of ice when they are out there.

“I feel real comfortable with the depth of our team right now.”

Biggs, who was drafted 22nd overall in 2011, has found a way to stay in the lineup and develop at a position that the big club may need his services for at some point in the future. But his offensive numbers still continue to struggle.

In 35 games with the Marlies, with no time on the power play, the Ohio native has produced just two goals and two assists and has gone the last 16 games without finding the back of the net. On Saturday against the Comets, however, he led the team with a career-high seven shots on net.

“He’s not getting the results he’s wanted,” said Dineen. “I’d love to see him get results for all his hard work but they’ll come if he keeps putting in the work.”

KYLE CICERELLA

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