“We require as a team proper levels of pugnacity, testosterone, truculence and belligerence. That's how our teams play.”
Well, at Friday’s NHL entry draft Burke picked up a whole lot of that with 18-year-old American winger Tyler Biggs.
Coming through with the US National Development team, the 6’2", 207-pound skater is known to throw his weight around.
"He's a guy who is intimidating even when he plays the college team," gushed Ron Rolston, the U.S. coach. "We played Maine a couple of weeks, and he physically took four or five guys right off their feet with physical checks. He just plays the game hard."
That physical presence was impressive enough to vault Biggs into the No. 1 position for American prospects as of February.
Burke was high enough on the "fullback on skates" to trade the Maple Leafs' 30th and 39th overall picks to Anaheim, thus putting himself in a position to snag the Binghamton, NY native in the 22nd slot.
"He's hostile and truculent and those are things that we like. And he's got the size to back it up," Burke said. "We worked pretty hard to get him, we're pretty excited about this."
In addition to the promise of continual punishment for those who get in his way, while not the next coming of Cam Neely, Biggs also has offensive upside.
If various scouting reports turn out to be accurate, in between dishing out the crowd-pleasing hits, Biggs should be contributing around 15 goals a year, maybe more.
In fact, Biggs, whose Canadian father once had a 12-game stint as an NHL player (and who also had a role in YoungBlood), may even have the penchant for big goals.
At this year's U-18 World Championships in Germany for example, it was Biggs who netted the overtime winner against Canada.
According to USA Hockey's Jim Johannson Biggs, perhaps the best way to neatly describe the whole package of Tyler Biggs is to call him a Mike Keane type player—only bigger.
Keane never scored more than 16 goals in a season, but was known for his energy, leadership and work ethic. It was a formula that paid off with three cups in three different cities: Montreal, Colorado and Dallas.
If Biggs could live up to Mike Keane’s accomplishments, well, that wouldn’t be too bad at all for a 22nd overall pick.
Unfortunately, as per usual, Leaf fans are going to have to have some patience with Burke's latest prototype.
Biggs is still a few years off from plying his truculent trade at the Air Canada Centre. Next season he'll be honing his game with the Red Hawks of Miami University of Ohio—the same school, incidentally, where Burke’s late son Brendan was student manager.
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