Canadiens add to list of defensive prospects

Dalton Thrower, 51st overall pick by the Montreal Canadiens, poses with Canadiens representatives...

Dalton Thrower, 51st overall pick by the Montreal Canadiens, poses with Canadiens representatives during day two of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 23, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images/AFP)

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:23 PM ET

PITTSBURGH - The Montreal Canadiens added to their growing list of strong defensive prospects Saturday when they acquired the aptly named Dalton Thrower.

The kid, though he’s just a sliver under six feet tall, is a battler.

On and off the ice.

Thrower made an impression on new Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin at the Top Prospects Game. When Thrower saw Saskatoon Blades’ teammate Lukas Sutter get hammered by big Thomas Wilson of the Plymouth Whalers, Thrower made a beeline for Thomas off the bench and began throwing them.

“He went after the big kid, Wilson. He went with the biggest kid in the draft. Who’s this kid?” remembered Bergevin Saturday. “When he was there, there was no way we were going to pass on him.”

The Canadiens took Thrower 51st overall with a pick they received from the Nashville Predators in the deal for defenceman Hal Gill.

“As soon as I saw that hit, I felt like it was a dirty hit,” Thrower told NHL.com about the incident at the Top Prospects Game. “I’d do what I did for any one of my teammates, at any time. It doesn’t matter the size of the guy for me - if he’s 6-4, 6-5 - if it has to happen, it’ll happen.”

Thrower has also been a battler off the ice. Both his parents are cancer survivors and he had to help look after a younger brother and sister when his mother battled an aggressive form of breast cancer. His dad had a cancerous tumour in his stomach.

“He brings a bit of everything. Look at his point totals. He’s skilled, but he’s tough,” said Trevor Timmins, who runs the Habs’ scouting operation. “He’s very difficult to play against and he’s gritty. He plays a physical game and he backs it up. He’s skilled, but he backs it up which is a good combination to have.”

With their first pick in the second round, the Canadiens took right wing Sebastian Collberg of the Frolunda Indians of the Swedish Elite League. He had a strong performance in helping the Swedes win gold at the world junior tournament and Timmins said people should look at that rather than the fact he was pointless in 41 games playing with the men.

“We think he has a lot of potential. Anybody that watched the world junior games saw him play. He was used in the shootouts in the world junior and in the gold medal game he played ahead of Filip Forsberg. We think he’s got a lot of upside as a goal scorer. He plays with a lot of energy. He’s an outstanding skater. He’s on the puck all the time.”

“It’s really great to be a part of the Montreal Canadiens right now,” said Collberg. “It was a tough year for me this year. I need to get stronger. I’m not the biggest guy out there, around the boards I want to get stronger there, around the net, too.”

“Throughout my career,” said Bergevin, “I never played with a bad Swede.”

With the 64th pick, the Habs took Tim Bozon, the son of former St. Louis Blues’ Philippe Bozon who was also a member of the French Olympic team.

The dad seemed more excited than the son.

“It means a lot for me because I played a little bit of junior in the Quebec league and I also went to see a lot of games in Montreal and it was a dream for me one day to wear that jersey. My son is about to wear that jersey now. It makes me really proud,” said Phillipe, who played 144 games in the NHL.

“Montreal is a high-class organization, I think. He cannot be in a better place. He’s also going to be in an environment where it’s hockey all the time, which he likes so much. He just lives by hockey.”

The Bozons decided the quickest way for Tim to the NHL was to leave Switzerland and play in the Canadian Hockey League. He had 36 goals for the Kamloops Blazers.

“I got to say I was impressed. I didn’t think he would have that much success this year. I kind of kid him sometimes to get him in competition with my stats the first year, by joking,” said Phillipe. “The number of goals he scored, I was a little bit surprised.”

“We like the way he competes and the way he adjusted to the Western Hockey League. That’s a tough league coming from Europe,” said Timmins. “His work ethic and commitment in his off-ice preparation is going extremely well this summer. That’s key for him. He has to add some size and strength. He has natural scoring ability. His 36 goals tell the tale.”

Overall, Bergevin said he was pleased with his first draft as a general manager.

“We got talent, character and to me those are the most important things and these guys all fit the bill,” he said. “(I’m) very satisfied. Honestly. I can walk out of here and go back to the hotel and look at our guys. They’re going to come in tonight and meet their families. I’m looking forward to that. I’m very excited for my first draft. Time will tell, obviously, but I feel really proud of our guys that we picked today.”

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

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