One day after a young forward who had yet to play to his potential was traded away, in Nail Yakupov, the same situation has repeated itself. Though not exactly a #1 overall pick, Tim Bozon had long been considered a top forward prospect for the Montreal Canadiens. That changed today, when the 22-year-old winger was traded to the Florida Panthers in exchange for defenseman Jonathan Racine.
A third-round pick in 2012, Bozon looked like a steal for the Habs, after he turned in a 91-point junior season for the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League in 2012-13, outscoring many household names including 2014 #2 overall pick Sam Reinhart. However, a mid-season trade in 2013-14 to the Kootenay Ice seemed to throw off Bozon’s career trajectory. In his final two years of junior, now playing in Kootenay, he only put up point totals in the sixties, a steep drop from his breakout season in 2012-13. His woes hit a new low last year, as he took part in his first full pro season. In 41 games with the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps, Bozon only had eight points, and was even demoted to the ECHL at one point.
Disappointed with the lack of production and development with their once-promising prospect, Montreal made the decision today to give Bozon a change of scenery, sending him to the Florida (or more accurately Springfield). They get back the 23-year-old defenseman Racine, who gives the Canadiens some defensive depth with a solid AHL contributor. While Racine has little to no offensive upside, he does play a smart defensive game and a hard-hitting, physical style of hockey. Trading away scoring ability for grit and toughness has been a theme of Montreal’s off-season, and it continues with this deal. The Panthers, on the other hand, hope to revive the career of a player with outstanding skating ability and a strong shot, who at one point looked like a sure thing as a future NHLer. If Bozon can work on playing a more complete game and not being pushed on the ice, this won’t be the last time you’ll hear of him.