Intro: Sportsnet.ca is previewing the top 30 prospects in the 30 days leading up to the National Hockey League draft in New Jersey on June 30.
Our countdown continues with the No. 28 prospect, the two-way defenceman from the Owen Sound Attack, Chris Bigras.
Stats: Owen Sound Attack (OHL) | 68 GP | 8 G | 30 A | 38 P | +35 | 34 PIM
Who is Chris Bigras?
The sophomore defenceman finished second in scoring among Attack blue liners with 38 points, behind Ottawa Senators first-rounder Cody Ceci’s 64. Bigras emerged as one of the Attack’s most reliable defenders this season and he helped Canada win two gold medals at the under-18 tournaments in Slovakia and Russia.
Chris Bigras’ scouting report:
The product of Elmvale, Ont. is a jack of many trades - Bigras does so many things well that he can be used in any situation. To truly appreciate his game, one has to monitor him closely. Bigras is adaptable and can be a key contributor on the power-play or on the penalty kill. His greatest asset might just be his ability to process the game and though he may not bring the wow factor, Bigras should develop into a reliable, long-time pro.
Teams who might be interested in Chris Bigras:
The Calgary Flames’ prospect cupboard is running a little bare, particularly on defence. Their additional first-round pick, acquired in the Jarome Iginla trade with Pittsburgh, could be used to take a dependable and virtual no-risk prospect like Bigras. He may also be targeted by the San Jose Sharks, who could use some blue line depth for their future.
Scout’s take: “He just got better and better as the season wore on,” says David Burstyn, director of scouting for McKeen’s Hockey. “He really played well at the (under-18) Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament. He was penciled in as a seventh defenceman, but by the end of the tournament, he was playing top four minutes and in all situations.
“Bigras doesn’t have a really good shot, but he’s very smart and he jumps into the play. He knows exactly where he needs to be. He’s just got strong defensive and offensive zone awareness and he plays a good defensive game. He’s strong, but sometimes he gets bullied around the side of the goal -- he’s got to tighten up a little bit there. He’s got a slight bow-leg, so it kind of impedes his speed.
“He’s smart,” Burstyn continued. “He gets it. He was able to play even when the Attack got Ceci. They took away his power-play time, but he still put up points. He compares a little bit to me to Stephane Robidas – one of those guys that’s pretty unsung, but Robidas’ been playing for 14 years. Bigras isn’t as physically intimidating or involved as Robidas is, but he might have more offensive upside.”
“One of my favourite prospects in the draft,” adds Ross MacLean, head scout for International Scouting Services. “He’s a coach’s dream. He’s a mature and ultra-responsible defender who excels because of his ability to think the game. Makes great safe and reliable plays consistently and reads the play effectively. He’s got a good smooth all-around technical skill package and stabilizes and insulates his defensive partners extremely well. He needs to work on his shot and get stronger before he will be able to be effective at the next level.”
Rankings: Bigras is ranked 14th by the NHL’s Central Scouting (North American skaters), 27th by McKeen’s Hockey and 29th by International Scouting Services.