May 8, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Phil Kessel (81) warms up before the game against the Boston Bruins as fans watch during game four of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs at the Air Canada Centre. The Bruins beat the Leafs 4-3 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Maple Leafs Fans Need To Be More Patient With Prospects


Oh, how the times have turned.

In the John Ferguson Jr. and Cliff Fletcher days of the Toronto Maple Leafs, prospects were either traded away or rushed to the NHL, Luke Schenn being an example of the latter. Fans would clamor that the Leafs gave up on a player too soon or that he was not ready for the NHL.

Now that the Leafs are letting their prospects develop more in the juniors and with the Toronto Marlies, fans are disappointed that players aren’t making their debuts sooner. The latest example is Tyler Biggs.

The Leafs drafted Biggs with the 22nd overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft. They even traded up to get him.

Now, Biggs was never going to light up the NHL, even though there were some that compared his game to that of Milan Lucic. However, the fact that the first-round pick has taken so long to make it to the NHL, has angered some fans.

Biggs had this to say as the Marlies closed out their season after being eliminated in the AHL’s Western Conference Finals.

I love the Toronto market and how passionate they are… I can understand where they’re coming from when you have a first-round draft pick who isn’t putting up numbers. At the same time, I wasn’t drafted to score goals. I play a certain role… The whole year was an experience for me, learning how how to become a professional, learning how to handle certain situations, handle adversity… I saw a lot of it this year, sometimes with injuries, sometimes not being in the lineup when you wanted to be.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have been extremely safe with their late first-round picks. Players like Biggs, Stuart Percy and Frederik Gauthier should all play in the NHL one day but they probably won’t be making many appearances in the top six forwards or the top four d-men in Percy’s case. They have taken more risks with higher first-round picks and their second-round picks.

There is one team in the NHL that has been known for drafting well and then developing them properly. For the longest time, players didn’t play full-time with the Wings until they were nearly 25 years old.

If the Leafs can start mimicking that development system, they should get better in the long run. Biggs is only 21, perhaps with more development time, he will turn out to be a better prospect than he appears to be at the moment.

Biggs and other prospects the Leafs have need to have time before they can make an impact in the NHL. It’s no surprise the Marlies most likely to make the Leafs next season have been waiting a long time, such as Jerry D’Amigo, Peter Holland and Petter Granberg.

Tags: Featured Toronto Maple Leafs Tyler Biggs

  • Stan Smith

    I think that can be said for the whole team. Everyone needs to be more patient period. The past two seasons have been roller coaster rides with stretches of impressive hockey followed by stretches of terrible play. They are a young, rebuilding team that I personally think are on the right road. While having some veterans to help guide the younger core is a great idea, panicking, and trading away the future for a quick fix is not the way to go. The success of the Marlies is an indication they are working in the right direction.

    • WatchinTheLeafs

      Exactly. They have to do the job right and there’s no shortcuts. Emotional Leaf observers will say it’s been 50 years so do it now or I’m outta here. St. Louis Blues cup less drought is exactly the same as the Leafs but nobody is pushing them to panic. Nor should the Leafs. Shanty has a cooler head and will prevail. I’m just happy the team is poised for improvement and that’s all I can ask for.

      • La Leaf

        I wish more Leaf fans where like you! The whole mentality of “win now or I’m out of here” leads me to this thought…..don’t let the door hit you on the …………..!

  • Tim Bayer

    The issue with Biggs isn’t that he hasn’t made the NHL yet. The issue with Biggs is he can’t even crack the Marlies. He was a healthy scratch for most of the playoffs. Compare that with Percy, taken in the same draft just ahead of him. He’s right on the cusp of making it. Add in the fact Burke traded up to pick Biggs, it was a horrendous pick. The Ducks ended up with Rickard Rakell and John Gibson so Burke could trade up. Or Brandon Saad, a guy rumoured to go right around where the Leafs picked, ended up going in the second round. He’s a key contributor on one of the best teams in the league already. Fans have every right to be frustrated with that decision.

    • Stan Smith

      This was Biggs first season with the Marlies though. Some players take longer to adjust from Juniors to the AHL, and yes, some never do. I think, as the article states, a little patience is what is needed all around.

    • Bill Kniess

      Exactly…those picks have sometimes been a lot higher up than Detroit picks. Detroit has to project a player out..so they take a lot of Europeans. They might be able to skate…but they know they are probably not coming over till they are 20-21..then a couple yrs. in AHL learning the N.A. game..being Americanized… and going from being a man…to being an NHL conditioned man.

  • La Leaf

    It wasn’t “the fans” who wrote the article in the Toronto Star 2 weeks ago which was titled “Leafs Prospect Biggs Taking Too Long To Develop” it was reporter Kevin McGrann!!!!

  • Double_Up

    Biggs was a bad pick. Percy, Finn, better. Burke wanted Biggs though. I saw Biggs play once, he looked like the Hulk, but stayed on the perimeter, out of the corners, such a soft player. Comparing him to Lucic is asinine. Biggs has a ton of improving to do just to be an AHLer. He may do it, but I doubt it. Gauthier is 2-3 years away too unless you don’t mind him playing 5-8 minutes a game in the NHL. But he has way more upside than Biggs and may turn out to be a fine 3rd line center,

  • jimithy

    Impatience is not the problem in Leafland, the problem is indifference. These fans have proven themselves to be the quietest and the laziest in the entire league. The players come to play but then realize there is no one to play for, there is no support. At away games the support for the Leafs is really good.