The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Mile High Hockey writing staff. Our writers, plus a special vote from the readers, ranked players under the age of 25 as of September 1, 2017 in the Colorado Avalanche organization. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production against future projection to rank each player. Now, we’ll count down each of the 25 players ranked.
There’s something to be said about a player when they end the year in the NHL (w/ Roy) and start the year in San Antonio (w/ Bednar). Coach Bednar was obviously not convinced.
Chris Bigras will have his work cut out for him trying to make the Avalanche roster come opening night. And this might be his last chance. He only has 1 year remaining on his entry level contract, it’s now or never.
With the addition of Mironov and Lindholm/Siemens primed to compete for that last defensemen pairing, Bigras finds himself right on the bubble. But he doesn’t come in at #10 for no reason. The kid has loads of talent.
In the same 2013 draft class as our local hero Nathan Mackinnon, Chris Bigras was selected next in the 2nd round, 32nd overall from OHL’s Owen Sound Attack. He led all Owen Sound defensemen with 38 points (8G/30A) while adding a +35 plus/minus rating in the 2012-2013 season and was rated by NHL Central Scouting as the sixth-best North American defensemen for the 2013 Entry Draft.
He returned to Owen Sound for the 2014-2015 season where he found his scoring touch, posting an astounding 71 points (20G/51A) in 62 games.
Chris Bigras made his Colorado Avalanche debut on January 14th, 2016 vs the New Jersey Devils and recorded his first NHL point (assist) the very next game in Columbus. Bigras finished the year playing on the last defensemen pairing with either Andrew Bodnarchuck or Zach Redmond. He ended the year with 1G, 2A, -2 +/-, and 16 PIMS. Not spectacular numbers, but Bigras was never known for his offensive prowess.
Touted as an extremely smart skater, Bigras plays a simple but effective game. A game in which the Avalanche need so desperately. He doesn’t tower over opponents, listed at 6’1 and 190 lbs, but he uses his strong skating ability to beat guys to the puck and break out of the defensive zone in a hurry. Bigras has the ability to put the puck in the net but has been slow to develop a great shot from the point. He can play on both the power-play and the PK and can be effective on both sides of the ice.
Ross MacLean, head scout for International Scouting Services, had this to say about Bigras game,
“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.”
Bigras had an excellent training camp last year and was really impressive at the Rookie Showcase. Coach Bednar elected to give him more time in San Antonio and was never called up but instead was passed over for guys like Lindholm and Siemens. Either Coach sees a flaw in his game that most of us do not or he wanted to see 1 more year of high level play in the AHL. It’s tough to say at this point until training camp begins.
The Avalanche has seen a major influx of defensive prospects in the past couple of years from the likes of Makar, Timmons, Meloche and Lindholm. Even if Bigras starts the season in San Antonio, if he plans to develop into the player he was drafted for, he’ll need to have a make it or break it year.