When Tim Bozon was lying in a hospital bed in an induced coma to combat the viral meningitis that had begun to take hold of his body two years ago, few people were looking ahead to his professional hockey debut. All focus at the time was simply on his survival. Fast forward two years, and a fully recovered Tim Bozon entered his first season of professional hockey as the picture of perseverance.
But his transition to pro hockey was not seamless. During the AHL preseason, he was hit against the boards and injured his shoulder, which caused him to miss the first 14 games of the season. Upon his return, he was re-assigned to the Brampton Beast of the ECHL. The IceCaps were pretty stacked on forwards at the start of the season, and Bozon would have struggled to get quality playing time.
He finally made his season debut on November 27, when the IceCaps started being impacted by recalls and injuries. Sven Andrighetto, Christian Thomas, and Bud Holloway were all up with the Habs, while Jacob de la Rose and Markus Eisenschmid were injured. Bozon played 10 times in 11 games for the IceCaps, registering only a single assist, mostly playing left wing on various line combinations.
Once De La Rose and Eisenschmid returned from injuries, Bozon found himself a healthy scratch, and eventually re-assigned back to the Brampton Beast for a long stretch. He returned for good to the IceCaps at the start of February when the roster was at its absolute thinnest, and played in all remaining 31 games.
In 15 games with the Beast, Bozon scored three goals and added six helpers. With the IceCaps he played 41 games, scored five times and assisted on another three goals. For a player who was scoring routinely 30+ goals in the WHL every year, this is obviously a very sharp decline in production, and it's probably no big secret that he would have spent the majority of the season in the ECHL if not for the IceCaps roster woes.
The obvious concern is that his life-threatening ailment affected him physically, and that his time away from the game recovering may have impacted his development. But, when he returned to the Kootenay Ice after his recovery, he continued scoring at his usual pace. That said, it seems more plausible that his lack of scoring can be chalked up to general growing pains that can come with transitioning to the professional level.
The Montreal Canadiens third-round pick in 2012 still has a long way to go in his development if he hopes to ascend to the NHL. He has a great wrist shot and excellent manoeuvrability, but needs to use his 6'1" frame more in winning puck battles. This summer, he should focus on building up his strength, so he can show up at training camp with a bit more of a refined overall game.
The Habs organization is not very deep on left wing, and with Michael Bournival's ongoing concussion issues, the opportunity will be there for Bozon to move up the lineup for the IceCaps next season. Considering that he was drafted as an offensive winger, he'll need to take advantage of all opportunities to increase his point production.
If he can't do that, he'll unfortunately be running the risk of slipping back into the ECHL, or out of the Canadiens' organization entirely.