Day 1 is done, and the Leafs have walked away with two prospects to add to a growing cupboard of young up-and-comers. Though that elusive number one centre has yet to be added via trade, talent has been added to the organization long term, and that’s never a bad thing.
What I enjoyed seeing last night; both kids in blue and white grew up members of Leafs Nation. Maybe, possibly, one or both might have read this site at one point. But that opportunity to bleed for the team you grew up idolizing is such a huge thing, and an attribute Burke clearly values, as both kids should push hard for opportunities over the next few years.
In Tyler Biggs, Burke brought in a player to play his smash mouth brand of hockey with some offensive upside. At 6’2 and 210 lbs, Biggs is physically mature and when combined with his long stride, mobile and balanced skating, Biggs is a hard kid to get off the puck. Physically, he hits like a train, and will leave a lot of damage in his path; he’s got fan favourite potential written all over him. There were some names on the draft board with more offensive upside and projection, but this is what one would expect of Burke with a late round pick; find someone that fits the tough-to-play-against team identity and has a good shot at contributing at the NHL level.
He possesses a hard shot with a good release, but has only â€œokayâ€ hands. His hockey sense has been questioned, but he likes to drive the net.
At the end of the day, Biggs won’t wow you by creating his own offence, but paired with two skilled guys, look for him to create room and score some goals as your typical â€œpower forward.”
Did I mention he’s a Leafs fan? His family is from the Toronto area, even if he grew up in the States, and lists the Buds as his favourite team.
Then we have hometown boy, Stuart Percy. Described as a calm and mature blueliner, Percy shows a lot of patience with the puck and demonstrates high end hockey sense. He’s a solid puck mover, really picks his spots well offensively, as well as showing strong positioning defensively. A good two-way player, Percy saw little ice time throughout the year, eventually having to work up from the bottom pairing into the top spots in Mississauga. It’s hard to judge the season because of it, but this could be a case of a Jesse Blacker, who was hidden on a deep team a bit, and was able to burst onto the scene after his draft. At least… we can always, hope right? He seemed to impress quite a bit in the Memorial Cup, which could be signs of good things to come.
With Percy, we should have an NHL defenseman on our hands. In what role has yet to be determined. At this point, many suggest a 3-4 type smart two-way guy who adds another element to the back end. Hard to complain, even if it was a bit of a stretch at 25th Overall. Dave Morrison said in post-draft interviews that there was some consideration for Percy at 22, but instead they grabbed Biggs and hoped he remained available come pick 25. Especially in a draft as wide open as this one proved to be, all you can do as a fan is trust your scouting staff in identifying “their guy,” and Percy was exactly that for Morrison and co.
All in all, Brian Burke had a solid, yet unspectacular first day. These picks might lack the sexy factor but they both have good chances at being solid contributors at the NHL level. The organizational depth accumulates.
Without a second round pick for tomorrow, we’ll be waiting quite a bit to see any other future Leafs, however watch for Rick Dudley, Dave Morrison and Tommie Bergman to search high and low for talent. All three are great judges of talent, and my trust is high in all of them.
Bring on the next six rounds.