The 2010 NHL Entry Draft could potentially be a very good year for defensemen where eligible current and future collegians are concerned. Among the top rearguards is Harvard’s Danny Biega.
Biega, the youngest of the Biega brothers playing at Harvard University this season, enjoyed an outstanding rookie season, posting nine points (five goals, four assists) in 32 games. His 47 penalty minutes ranked second on the team and he logged upwards of 20-25 minutes of ice time per game. The lone game that Biega missed this season was due to a suspension he received from the ECAC for a hitting-from-behind incident at Brown on Feb. 5. Biega’s most memorable performance came in the first round of the ECAC Tournament, where he posted three points (two goals, one assist) to help guide the Crimson to a two-game sweep over Princeton on Mar. 5 and 6. It also garnered the Montreal native his lone ECAC Player of the Week honor of the season.
Like his older siblings, Danny Biega came to Harvard from the Salisbury School. In 2009, he helped guide the Crimson Knights to the New England Prep School (NEPSIHA) championship title as well as earned the Defenseman of the Year honor and being named to the New England Prep All-Star team. In his final year at Salisbury, Biega posted 22 points (eight goals, 14 assists).
Aside from Harvard, Biega was also recruited by Boston College. As he explained, the opportunity to play with his older brothers was a primary reason he chose to attend Harvard.
“Having two brothers already on the team and always wanting to go there made my decision to go to Harvard easy,” he said.
Biega can best be described as a budding two-way defenseman who plays with an edge. At 6’0”/200 lbs, Biega is just under average NHL defender size. But he makes up for it with good foot speed and acceleration. He skates with good edges and transitions well.
Biega has superb puck-handling ability, and as Harvard head coach Ted Donato explained, it is also one of Biega’s most underrated attributes as well.
“I would say that Danny is underrated as a puck mover. Because he can make that first pass early before he gets in trouble, it sometimes doesn’t look as spectacular,” Donato said.
Biega has tremendous poise with the puck and makes simple yet smart outlet passes. His excellent vision can be seen in where many of his passes end up. While Danny lacks the offensive flair that his brother Alex has, he can get pucks to the net. He also has a quick release to his shots as well. The offensive side of Biega that became evident in the latter half of the season is just a sampling of his offensive potential for the future.
Unlike his brother Alex, Danny Biega thrives on the physical side of the game. And it is something that simply comes naturally for him.
“I think it’s an important part of the game and it’s just instinctive," he said. "Obviously when you’re out there, every play is a battle that you want to win and be able to come out with the puck. So I’m trying to do whatever I can to get the puck, no matter what. I think being physical is just a part of that.”
One area where Biega has developed quite nicely throughout his rookie season at Harvard has been his play in the defensive zone, specifically in his positioning. He has shown to be effective in one-on-one situations, and has also displayed some good gap control and utilizes his stick quite well too. Where Biega will need to improve and continue to develop is in making quicker decisions and his reaction time.
“I think he’s learned to pick his spots and has learned when to be involved offensively,” Donato said. “I also think that he’s gotten better in his own zone in one-on-one plays down low. I think Danny will continue to work on his decision-making and handling the pressure where breakouts are concerned. I think he’ll continue to develop more and more into an offensive factor for us too.”
So how does Biega describe himself?
“I think my skating is one of biggest attributes," he said. "I’m a quick skater and use my speed to get back into our zone first. I’d like to think that the faster you can get into the zone to break out the puck, the easier it is for you and the more time that you have. Another good attribute that I think I have is the ability to make the first good pass and get the puck out of our own zone.”
Biega’s combination of grit, competitiveness, skating ability, hockey sense and solid play in all three zones makes him a player who will be well worth keeping an eye on in the coming years.
Biega is ranked 46th on Central Scouting’s Final ranking. He is projected to go in the second round.