It is a challenge every NHL team is faced with every summer. Improve.
The closer teams get to the deepest they can go, the more difficult that challenge becomes. The comfort of promising youth though, is always a weight off of GMs’ shoulders. Canadiens prospect Dalton Thrower is one of the budding players helping the club ease into the challenges of summer.
Usually, the teams that make it further along the playoff bracket are the strongest and most complete. The Canadiens find themselves in a unique position. At the start of the regular season, they were not slated to make it as far as the Eastern Conference Final; they were expected to compete for a playoff spot at best. It is remarkable what this current group of players, coaches and management has been able to accomplish over the past two years. After the traumatic year the club had not too long ago, (one that could easily set any organization back years) they found a way to muster new troops and complete an immediate turnaround. Two playoff berths in two seasons, a Conference Final appearance and a division title have all come since finishing last in the East in 2012. You seldom see teams draft in the top five and make the playoffs in the same season, unless that team has traded Phil Kessel. But we saw the Canadiens do just that after drafting Alex Galchenyuk 3rd overall. Now they will grow and build with the core group they have. For the first time in quite some time the future looks bright, certain and the scope is long.
Dalton Thrower is the kind of defenseman who would find a place on any team. He is a shutdown, puck-moving, hard-hitting, fist-throwing player who knows how to lead. Would you like a Drew Doughty on your team? Because that is what you get with Dalton Thrower.
When I watch him play, I see a resemblance to the Kings’ star defenseman. I have been tracking the Squamish, B.C. native anxiously since he was selected 51st overall in the second round of the 2012 NHL Draft. Trevor Timmins, the Canadiens Director of Amateur Scouting, had a keen eye when sifting through that year’s draft class. At 6’0″, 203 the 20 year-old seems to possess that “x” factor sought out by head coach. He has good hockey sense, his play screams “energy” and he is a leader. He was named captain of the Vancouver Giants of the WHL this past season, in which he tallied 39 points (12G, 27A) and 70 PIMs in 42 regular season games. He spent his preceding 4 WHL years with the Saskatoon Blades where he racked up 108 points in 243 games. His fight reel is readily available and watching his tilts gives one a sense of the tenacity with which he plays. He is also a sound skater and strong puck mover who appears to have an extra gear in his box. His PPG of .60 is proof of his ability to create offense. A bonus - like P.K. Subban, he too he craves that perfect hit.
Two weeks ago, on May 30th, Marc Bergevin announced the signing of the blueliner to a three-year contract.
Thrower is a dominant player – a game-changer. He is the kind of force that can dictate and control the pace on the ice. I personally cannot wait to see this kid suit up in Montreal, and when that time does come I expect great things.
Well done Trevor Timmins and scouts alike.
With the added company of prospects like Michael McCarron, Magnus Nygren and Tim Bozon, as well as youngsters who have already gotten a taste like Nathan Beaulieu and Jarred Tinordi, training camp in Brossard, QC will be as competitive as ever.