June 22, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; General view of the stage and draft board order prior to the 2012 NHL Draft at CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

Toronto Maple Leafs Prospects: Tyler Biggs vs. Matt Finn

This past weekend Sportsnet’s Friday night hockey featured two prominent Maple Leaf draft picks as the Oshawa Generals took on the Guelph Storm.  In that game 2011 first round pick Tyler Biggs (Oshawa) went head to head with 2012 second rounder Matt Finn (Guelph).

The Maple Leafs traded up to take Biggs at number 22 overall in the 2011 draft.  At the time Biggs was playing with the US National Development team and after one year with Miami University (Ohio) he has since joined the Oshawa Generals for his first season in the OHL.  Biggs is off to what many consider a disappointing start.  Given that he is two years removed from his draft year, his offensive numbers have been less than impressive.  Entering the Friday night tilt he had 15 points (8 goals) in 17 games.

Finn was somewhat of a gift for the Maple Leafs at number 35 overall in last year’s draft.  Considering that they had already selected Morgan Rielly with the fifth overall pick, I am not sure that they were looking for another defenseman in the second round.  But with Finn still available he was too good to pass up.  Although rankings for the 2012 draft were highly debated, Finn was rated between 16 and 21 by most respected services, and rated as high as nine by Craig Button.  Finn is off to a very good start to the season with 15 points in 17 games.

The Storm ended up winning the game 4-1, but the final score does not tell the whole story.  The Generals dominated the game in the first two periods, and if it wasn’t for Storm goalie and Maple Leafs prospect, Garret Sparks (2011 3rd round pick), the game would have gotten out of hand early.  Sparks was the best player on the ice for either team and was rewarded with the game’s first star.

Biggs played right wing on the Generals top forward unit with Blue Jackets prospect Booner Jenner and 16 year old Michael Dal Colle.  Although he did not find the score sheet on the night, he was very effective.  He paid the price in front of the net to create an effective screen on Oshawa’s only goal.  He also created a couple good scoring chances.  For the most part, Biggs’ line carried the play when they were on the ice going head to head with Guelph’s top unit and Finn for the majority of the night.  Biggs had a plus 10 Corsi rating in the game despite starting many of his shifts in the defensive zone (33.3% offensive zone start percentage).

Finn was given the assignment of shutting down Biggs and the Generals top forward line.  Although he did nothing spectacular, he was solid for most of the game.  He is a smooth skater with very good vision, but can improve on his quickness and does not play very physical.  These are a couple things he will need to improve upon to get to the next level.

Finn ended the night with one goal and one assist.  However, his goal reminds us that traditional stats like goals, assists and plus-minus should always be taken with a grain of salt. On the goal Finn received the puck off a Storm face-off win and was purposely shooting the puck wide into the corner when the puck bounced off the end boards, then off the Oshawa goalie’s leg and into the back of the net.  So Finn ends up with the game winning goal and Biggs gets tagged with a minus one.

The table below gives a summary of stats that I took for the two players in the game:

TOI EV TOI PP TOI PK TOI Shot Attempts Shot Attempts Against Off. Zone Start Def. Zon Start
Tyler Biggs









Matt Finn









***Note shot attempt and zone start data are for even strength shifts only***

Both players saw plenty of ice time and were used in all situations.  I was fairly impressed with how well Biggs performed in the defensive zone.  He had a great sequence in the third period battling down low with Guelph’s 6’7” forward, Justin Auger.

During the first intermission Sportsnet’s Damien Cox said that he thought  Biggs was trying too hard to play a skilled game in the OHL.  This was an observation that I completely agreed with.  It’s almost as if he feels that he needs to prove that he can be an offensive player at this level.  Although it would be nice to see him put up big offensive numbers, his game should be focused around being physical, controlling the puck down low and creating offensive by driving the net.
Neither player is on the cusp of making the NHL, but they are two very intriguing prospects for the Maple Leafs and Leaf Nation should be interested in watching their development going forward.


Follow Tony on Twitter: @TheDailyBites



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