Today, BSN Avalanche’s Top 25 Colorado Avalanche Under 25 series continues with Chris Bigras, who was ranked 6th by the BSN staff. Bigras was also ranked 6th during the 2015 T25U25 series.
Who is Chris Bigras?
Bigras plays a cerebral game, his aptitude stemming from his on-ice intelligence and skating ability, both of which are highly-rated. Bigras' shot isn't overwhelming, but his vision, decision-making, and passing ability drive his effectiveness in transition, and on the power play.
Bigras' defensive game hinges on his active stick, his impressive mobility and edge-work, and his ability to control gaps. While he's not overly physical, he's more than capable of using his body to separate opposing players from the puck, and is as comfortable on the penalty kill as he is with the extra man.
By the Numbers
Bigras recorded 38 points during his draft season in 2012-2013, the latter half of which was spent in Cody Ceci's considerable shadow. Bigras' 2013-2014 numbers suggest something of a "down year", but he was nominated the OHL's MVP award, and was named the Western Conference's "Best Defensive Defenseman" in the OHL Coaches Poll.
However, the 2014-2015 season was when Bigras truly served notice that he was one to watch. Bigras recorded 20 goals and 71 points in 62 games, exploding offensively in the wake of a World Juniors snub, and tied off his season with 4 assists in 7 games for the Lake Erie Monsters in the AHL.
Bigras picked up right where he left off in 2015-2016, and after posting 19 points in 37 games for the San Antonio Rampage, he was called up to the Colorado Avalanche. Bigras was limited to 3 points in 31 games for the Avalanche, and the team struggled to create quality chances with him on the ice (-3.5 xGF% Rel), but there were certainly stretches where the skills that make him so highly touted were on full display.
What is the future for Chris Bigras?
Though he managed 31 games for the Avalanche in 2015-2016, Bigras is facing an uphill battle to make the team in 2016-2017, partially due to the acquisitions of Fedor Tyutin and Patrick Wiercioch, and partially due to his waiver-exempt status. The Avalanche need to make a decision on Duncan Siemens' future sooner rather later, and given that Siemens is waiver-eligible and further along in his development than Bigras, it makes more sense to have him playing intermittently as Colorado's #7 or #8 option.
In my opinion, Bigras is better served beginning the season in San Antonio, soaking up extensive minutes on the top pairing; if one of Colorado's top-4 guys suffers an injury at any point during the season, Bigras will be more prepared to step in.
Long-term, Bigras projects comfortably as a top-4 defender in the NHL, and potentially as a top pairing player. His ceiling is probably as a Marc-Edouard Vlasic-type; smooth, quietly competent, and perpetually underrated. While he may never reach Vlasic's heights, Bigras' mobility, intelligence, and ability to manage risk mean that he's all but assured of having a lengthy and effective NHL career.