Maple Leafs sign Tyler Biggs

Not sure why the Toronto Maple Leafs could keep it to a Thursday afternoon during a pretty busy Olympic day to announce the signing of their 2011 first round pick Tyler Biggs:

Biggs was in the NCAA last season, so a contract would have voided his eligibility. The hulk of an American forward, weighed in at 200-lbs at USA Hockey’s summer evaluation camp this week and is still listed at 6’0″. He decided to leave the NCAA this season and join with the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League. He’ll be allowed to compete in the OHL with an NHL deal.

He’s a pick that has drawn some criticism in the Maple Leafs blogosphere, particularly from our friends at Pension Plan Puppets:

To date, we don’t have any real evidence that Tyler Biggs can score at the level of his best-case projection as a future Top 6 Power Forward. We have to rely on the other skills he has shown, which given his significant size and strong skating, should be able to land him a role as a rugged bottom six winger. That, unfortunately for him, puts him in the same range as many of the prospects we have already reviewed and are about to review, which is why he takes a fall in our rankings down to #21.

This upcoming season will be very important for Biggs, particularly with a lot of eyes focusing on junior hockey as the NHL wrestles under lockouts and labour bickering. A good offensive season may put some of the concern to rest.

By the way, he put up two assists in an exhibition game yesterday in a 5-2 USA win versus Finland.

UPDATE — It has been pointed out on Twitter that since Biggs was not drafted off a CHL team (he came from the USA National Development Team) he is eligible to play in the American Hockey League next season. Still, I’d think the Leafs would rather see him roll over some softer competition to find some scoring touch.