Kyle Bigos has always has plenty of traits that hockey people love. First and foremost, the guy is huge. He plays for Merrimack College and they're listing him at 6'5'' and 240 lbs. at the moment. Second, he's mean. Bigos has been either first or second in penalty minutes in The Hockey East Association in each of his three seasons and it's not because he takes a lot of tripping minors. Third, he has played on mostly good teams. In his last year in the BCHL, the Vipers won the RBC Cup, and since he's been at Merrimack, the Warriors have been a much better team -- they were ranked as the top team in the NCAA for the first time ever earlier this season, and have a +58 goal differential in the three years since Bigos arrived after being -113 in the three previous seasons. That's not all Bigos, of course, but I'm sure it helps to boost his stock.
But none of these things matter if the guy can't play. And that's the best part! Bigos has played an important role on these teams. He was the MVP of that RBC Cup victory, and he's been playing in all situations with Merrimack. Sounds like a pretty good prospect! But his position in the top twenty-five wasn't unanimous, and after the jump, we'll talk about some of the reasons why.
|Rank||Player||DOB||Drafted||Year||Alan ||Ben ||Bruce ||DB ||Derek ||Jon||Ryan||Scott|
You'll note from the table above that both Derek and I have Bigos ranked inside the top twenty, whereas Jonathan has Bigos ranked outside the top thirty. Jonathan was kind enough to offer his reasoning, so let's parse our way through that to see what's up:
There's a lot to like about Bigos - particularly his size and mean streak, a pair of attributes that have never hurt any prospect, ever -
Sounds like Jonathan regrets ranking him so low already.
but there are definitely concerns.
Number one with a bullet is age; Bigos is the same age as Alex Plante and a year older than Colten Teubert, and both of those guys have had some time to iron out their kinks at the pro level. He's still in college because he was in the BCHL until age 20.
Not to be nit-picky, but Jonathan is exaggerating here. Yes, Bigos is 23, but I'll have you know that Bigos is three days younger than Plante, and just 300 days older than Teubert. Typical Willis. Always obfuscating and trying to distract you with incorrect details that are beside the point.
Beyond that, he's a penalty-taking machine (averaging 1.2 minor penalties per college game),
This is again only technically true. Yes, Bigos took 40 minor penalties in 34 games this season, but 11 of those penalties were coincidental minors, so if we lop those off, we're down to 0.85 minor penalties per game. Still high, right. But it's also college; they call everything in college, and that just isn't true in the pros. Plus, you can't call size and mean streak a plus if you're going to complain about this list of minor penalties: Roughing (x8); Cross-Checking (x8); Boarding (x4); Hooking (x4); Hitting from Behind (x3); Hitting after the Whistle (x3); Unsportsmanlike Conduct (x2); Interference (x2); High Sticking (x2); Elbowing (x1); Holding (x1); Slashing (x1); Tripping (x1). And just so you know, he also had majors for Contact to the Head, Grasping the Facemask, and Hitting from Behind. He's a nasty player. I think this is a plus.
contributes minimal scoring (despite power play time, where seven of his 17 points came)
This doesn't matter. He's a behemoth who puts the fear of God into people. His job is to take a regular shift in the NHL, not run an NHL power play.
and finished even on a team that outscored their opposition 69-to-41 at even-strength.
Yeah, this isn't ideal, but I feel pretty confident that Bigos is taking on the other team's higher end forwards, and if that's true, it's also not overly disturbing given that he's playing in a very good Conference.
I like the physical tools, and I liked what I saw at the Oilers' development camp, but at this point I'm unconvinced he'll hit the ground running when he makes the jump to pro.
I also like the tools, and I am encouraged that observers liked what they saw at development camp. I really don't know whether or not he'll hit the ground running when he turns pro, but if his skating is decent, he'll have a role for sure, and just being in the lineup consistently is pretty important. He'll absolutely need at least a year in the AHL, but that's pretty normal.
Given the volume of defensive prospects bound for Oklahoma City over the next few years, he's not exactly going to have much margin for error, either.
I hear this concern, but I'm actually not all that concerned. The Oilers have plenty of prospects, but they're all lefties. That doesn't mean that they can't play the right side, but Bigos is a natural righty and that should help him. The only others in the organization at this time are Jeff Petry, Justin Schultz, Corey Potter, Alex Plante, Colten Teubert, and Taylor Fedun. A couple of those players might be gone when Bigos turns pro.
Derek is also optimistic that, even if Bigos doesn't find a home in Edmonton, he'll find a home somewhere in the NHL:
He's got what it takes: size, footwork, a shot, the ability to wreck puck carriers and a mean streak. The concerns about him being older are valid, but the physical tools are there and his size is something NHL GMs drool over (see Oilers, Edmonton 2012 Draft). Rick Berry got 197 games in the NHL. Rick Berry. My only concern is that Bigos isn't going to get those games in Edmonton. Even though he's commented that he'd like to play in Edmonton, he's about to finish his final year of eligibility and has no reason to sign with Edmonton after the season is over.
To sum up, Bigos is a mammoth guy that we can expect to do mammoth-guy type stuff, which is exactly what the Oilers want to add to the bottom of their lineup. His incentive to sign with Edmonton is that becoming a free agent in mid-August sucks big-time. I think he'll sign with the Oilers, and I think he's got a good chance of seeing some NHL action.