One of the oldest adages in sports (and bird's nest stealing) is that you can't teach size. For the last 3 and a half years, the Oilers have counted among their prospects one of the largest humans on the planet capable of forward locomotion on skates -- Kyle Bigos, hulking defenceman for Merrimack College. When rating all 42 eligible prospects for this Top 25 list, my primary heuristic for deciding between them (after about #8) was what number of NHL games they had any probability of playing. I rated Bigos #16 (and highest out of anyone in our panel) because I feel his shot at playing NHL games is right about 16th out of the 42 eligible players -- it's really that simple. His overall ranking for this edition of The Top 25 Under 25 is #20.
|Rank||Player||DOB||Drafted||Year||Alan ||Ben ||Bruce ||DB ||Derek ||JW||Michael||Ryan ||Scott|
Previous Rank: 24
I've always thought Kyle Bigos has one of those supremely apt names that seems too poetic to be true. It would be akin to Richard Pryor being called Richard Funnyos, or Jim Belushi being called Jim Notfunnyos. Yes, he's a large human being. Bruce McCurdy reported during the most recent summer prospect development camp that his vital stats were listed at 6'5" and 251 lbs. That sounds like a lot of human matter, but just how large is that? Here's a list of all current NHLers who are over both 6'4" in height and 245 lbs in weight:
- Zdeno Chara - 6'9" 255
- John Scott - 6'8" 270
- Joe Finley - 6'8" 249
- Nik Antropov - 6'6" 245
- Dustin Byfuglien - 6'5" 265
- Yep, that's it.
There are a lot of things to like about Kyle Bigos, starting with the fact that he's a physical monster and he plays with a mean streak, two attributes that the Oilers love. Off-setting the positives are a host of concerns, though. He's old - the same age as fourth-year pro Alex Plante. For a shutdown defenceman, his college plus/minus is a little concerning too - entering this season, Merrimack was plus-60 with Bigos off the ice and just plus-4 with him on. That's far from a definitive worry, given the flaws with plus/minus, but it is worth noting. He gets the coveted "skates well for a big man" label, which is rarely reassuring - he didn't seem particularly fast in the Oilers' summer development camp, though again that's more to be filed under 'possibly of interest' than 'damning.' The biggest fear, though, might be opportunity: Bigos (if the Oilers choose to sign him) will be entering a development system flush with defenders in general and especially on the right side - he will need to quickly earn playing time while competing against guys like Taylor Fedun and Colten Teubert. It's a tall order.
So, Tuesday night I put the question to Bigos: Is becoming an unrestricted free agent in August (2013) on your mind as something you would consider?
"No, not really," Bigos replied, "Next year I really want to focus on training this summer, then the season and after that I don't think I'd really want to go any where else. I haven't really given it much thought. I was drafted by the Oilers, they saw something in me, they really like me, we have a personal and formal relationship that I really like and hopefully I can land here."
Oiler fan, just because Bigos is returning to Merrimack College this fall does not mean that the 4th rounder is looking to leave the organization. For him, it's about further development on and off the ice. He wants to get his degree and he wants to be ready as a hockey player too.
So there is no reason for concern here. Right?
"No, absolutely not," he reiterated, "I love Canada, I love Edmonton and the organization has treated me so well. They have me completely right now and I'm very excited to be a part of it, very honoured and I'm just going to work as hard as I can to make the team."
You heard him Oiler fans -- we had him at 'Entry Level Contract'! Swoon!
And as long as nothing has drastically changed in the meantime, I'd say there's a very good chance Bigos gets signed by the Oilers after the end of the NCAA season. And as long as he's still in the Oilers system, we'll have a MUCH better idea of what the organization has in Bigos by this time next year.