Tyler Biggs grew up in Loveland, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati. So needless to say, when the forward learned he’d been traded from Toronto to the Pittsburgh as part of the Phil Kessel deal, his family was thrilled.
“That’s one of the first things my sister said to me, was that I was only going to be about four hours away,” Biggs said. “My whole family is pretty excited about that.”
And while Biggs admits he’s cheered for the Bengals – “I had a feeling I’d be getting these questions, that didn’t take long,” he laughed – he doesn’t mind the Steelers.
“I went through a phase when Carson Palmer was there and Chad Johnson was Chad Johnson,” Biggs said. “I was one of the few Bengals fans at the time that didn’t hate Pittsburgh because I didn’t really care to hate any NFL team. I don’t think I watched it enough. So I guess I was in the one percent of Bengals fans.”
Despite growing up relatively close to Pittsburgh, Biggs’ parents are originally from Toronto – so Tyler was raised a Leafs fan and was excited to be drafted by the team in the first round (22nd overall) back in 2011.
After a year of college hockey with Miami of Ohio and a year in major juniors with Oshawa, Biggs made the jump to professional hockey for the 2013-14 season – which he spent the entirety of in the American Hockey League.
However, last year Biggs found himself going back and forth between the Marlies and the Orlando Solar Bears of the ECHL while also dealing with an injury – and that adversity definitely taught him a lot.
“All of it so far has matured me and given me better character and gotten me prepared for when I do reach that next level,” Biggs said.
While Biggs may have had a tough season last year, it’s important to keep in mind that he’s still growing and developing, having turned just 22 on April 30.
And there’s a lot to like about Biggs, as he’s got incredible size at 6-foot-2, 223 pounds, is a power forward who likes to be physical, isn’t afraid to get in the dirty areas and open up space for more skilled linemates, and can kill penalties. The Pens were really high on him during his draft year, and they believe he can become a solid contributor to the organization.
“Biggs hasn’t really gotten going the way he should’ve after being a first-round pick since he turned pro, but he’s a big body and he has some things to offer if he can develop a little more,” Pens general manager Jim Rutherford said.
And this trade could be just what Biggs needs to help him reach that potential. It’s going to be a completely fresh start, as he doesn’t have any former teammates or coaches in the Penguins organization apart from the other pieces of the deal (Kessel and defenseman Tim Erixon).
“I am actually coming in brand new. I don’t think there’s a soul on (the team) that I really know, so we’ll see,” Biggs laughed. “I’m sure they’re a great group of guys, all hockey players are cut from the same cloth.
“I’m excited for a fresh start. My professional career has taken a slower start than I wanted it to, but I think that being a part of the Penguins that could change it around. Being a part of a new scenery, I’m really excited for it.”