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Canadiens 2015 Top 25 Under 25: #18 Tim Bozon

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Tim Bozon has been a Top 25 Under 25 prospect every year since he was drafted by the Canadiens in 2012. This year, he finds himself ranked #18.

Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

In his first full season after fully recovering from a life-threatening battle with Neisseria meningitis, Tim Bozon showed no signs of letting this setback get in the way of him taking the next step in his career. Three months after contracting the potentially fatal illness, and recovering from a low point where he lost almost one quarter of his body weight, the then 20-year-old was back on the ice, getting ready for the 2014-15 season.

By the start of the 2014-15 season, Bozon had fully recovered and was able to attend the Canadiens rookie camp and played three exhibition games with the Hamilton Bulldogs before it was decided he would be better developed with his junior team.

Photo credit: Global News

"I'm here back in junior not because I was not good ... you can tell in the puck battles with bigger guys, professional guys, it's tougher. I need to regain my strength," Bozon said at the time.

Bozon would take the opportunity to play one more year in the WHL to refine his scoring touch, producing the most goals for the Kootenay Ice, with 35 goals in 57 games; 63 points overall, which was two points behind 2014, second-overall Buffalo Sabres pick, Sam Reinhart. The Ice lost in the first round of the WHL playoffs, going down in seven games after forcing their way back from a 3-1 series deficit. Bozon registered three goals and six assists, and was pivotal in the Ice's Game 6 win with a goal and the assist on the game-winning goal.

Overall, it was a solid final junior season and he was rewarded with a chance to play a game with the Bulldogs to end the year.

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Votes

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The votes for Bozon were fairly consistent: a high of 13 from Mark B. and Patrik, and a low of 21 from Cara and Matthew. This comes as no surprise as Bozon has been a consistent goal-scorer throughout his junior career.

Top 25 Under 25 History

2012 #18 2013 #11 2014 #15

Tim Bozon has always ranked favourably among the EOTP staff, almost cracking the top 10 as a 19 year-old in 2013. Although he's not as highly ranked as he was two years ago, it can be argued that the Canadiens' prospect pool has improved over that time, and Bozon's drop in the ranks can be considered the result of his development being somewhat stagnated by his illness.

Strengths

Bozon's clear strength is his ability to score goals, and thus all the tools that go along with making a good goal scorer: excellent skater, fast on his feet, smart offensively and able to find space and push back defenders with his speed and a superior top-speed puck handling ability and puck protection skills. A strong six foot, 200 pound frame gives Bozon an excellent foundation for down-low cycling, something he excels at due to his great skating ability.

Bozon's offensive talent could possibly be useful to the Canadiens if Alex Semin is unable to find his scoring touch, however, Bozon would be a very deep option for the Canadiens at this point, even though he has scored more than 30 goals in every season he played in the WHL. It will all depend on how Bozon's talent translates to the pro game, as Bozon will be set to start his first full season with the St. John's IceCaps' top nine. If he's able to evolve his scoring game to the pro level in the early part of the 2015-16 season, he could be an intriguing call-up option for Marc Bergevin if the Canadiens find themselves suffering from a lack of goal-scoring options.

Weaknesses

As is usually the case with developing offensive-minded prospects, Bozon's greatest challenges result from his defensive game. It's been noted by the EOTP staff in the past that Bozon tends to rely too much on his center to force the puck up and out of the defensive zone, making him a less desirable option for defensive-zone play. With the Montreal Canadiens being a team that does everything possible to ice players capable of playing a two-way game, this will be a weakness Bozon will want to improve in his first year in a pro league. Bozon did not help himself last season in improving the perception of his defensive-end game, posting a -4 rating in the regular season and -3 in the playoffs.

Scott projected the St. John's IceCaps roster next season, which should put into perspective where Bozon fits into the 2015-16 roster.

Projection

Bozon's goal this year will be to establish himself as a pro hockey player and be a scoring factor for his pro team. This will obviously mean him starting his season with the IceCaps, barring an unfathomably exceptional Canadiens' training camp. There is no reason to doubt, based on Bozon's past performances, that he will be ready to do what it takes to establish his identity as a goal-scorer at the pro level.

The difficulty in maintaining this identity once turning pro has led many burgeoning NHL-ers astray as they allow their defensive game and skills to suffer. Bozon's greatest challenge will be in the form of learning to use his skating, puck handling and cycling abilities to his advantage in all three zones.

The height of Bozon's potential could find him breaking into the Canadiens line-up at some point this season if there are injuries or some of the more highly projected prospects find it difficult to hit their stride at the NHL level. It would be very surprising to see him get the call-up ahead of the likes of Charles Hudon, Gabriel Dumont, Sven Andrighetto, Daniel Carr or  Nikita Scherbak, meaning Bozon will have to focus sharply on staying the course so he can move up the ranks of the depth pool.