Tyler Biggs had Feb. 19 circled on his calendar, but didn’t know if he’d actually be healthy enough to play.
On Friday night, the former Toronto Maple Leafs first round pick played in just his third game since returning from a broken ankle.
Biggs, the 22nd overall pick at the 2011 draft, was dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins as part of the Phil Kessel trade last July.
It’s a trade Biggs didn’t see coming.
“It caught me off guard, in Toronto especially, you never really know what to expect,” he said. “Anything can really happen. When they’ve got stars like that and they’re trying to do so many things, but it’s been beneficial for everyone.
“Hockey is a business, it’s nothing personal, but I was definitely caught off guard a little bit.”
The 22-year-old has been limited to just seven games with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins this season due to injuries and being a healthy scratch.
“It’s obviously been a long year already – just some more adversity, I guess,” Biggs said following a 4-2 loss to the Toronto Marlies. “But it was really nice getting out there and being able to play in this game especially. This one was one I was really looking forward to; unfortunately it didn’t go the way we wanted.”
After missing 26 games with his latest injury, the Loveland, Ohio native admitted he’s still not 100 percent.
Biggs played on a line with Jarrett Burton and Anton Zlobin, but saw limited minutes on Friday night.
“It was so-so,” Biggs said of his right ankle. “There’s still a bit of an adjustment right now as far as with the ankle. It’s definitely not fully healed yet, but I’m just kind of taping it and playing through it right now.”
The December ankle injury is just the latest setback in Biggs’ young professional career. The six-foot-two, 220-pound forward had his 2014-15 season cut short after he tore his Achilles tendon in his left ankle.
Biggs was limited to just 47 games in his second season with the Marlies scoring two goals and three assists prior to suffering the injury in early March.
“It was a clean cut, the surgery went great. It was just one of those things, you’re in a boot, you’re on crutches, you’re not really letting your foot touch the ground for a while,” Biggs said. “Once you’re back to walking and stuff, then you just kind of ease into certain weights and do your rehab as well as getting back in shape.”
It wasn’t until August when Biggs could walk normally setting back his offseason workout program and resulting in a slow start to the season.
“It’s definitely tough,” he said. “It’s the last thing you really want, you know? But that’s the sport we play, it’s tough and those things are going to happen.”
Biggs admits he’s disappointed he didn’t have an opportunity see his development through to the NHL with the Leafs organization, but is looking at the positives as he completes the final year of his entry-level contract.
“I do wish I would’ve been able to make it (in Toronto), but it’ll be just as enjoyable, if I’m playing against (the Leafs) up there, as long as I’m there,” said Biggs.