Dalton Thrower. Photo credit: Steve Hiscock of http://saskatoonblades.com
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When you get down to the 20-30th overall picks in the first round, things get a little murky. Gone are the picks that everyone's raved about for months - the soon-to-be-superstars, the supposed futures of their respective franchises. For a little perspective, the last three 24th-overall picks in the NHL draft have been Matt Puempel (2011: LW - OTT), Kevin Hayes (2010: RW - CHI), and Marcus Johansson (2009: C-WAS). Of the three, only Johansson has NHL experience to this point; Puempel will probably require another year in Juniors for seasoning, and Kevin Hayes is currently attending Boston College. They're players that needed development before making the NHL, though all three are projected as being key parts of their respective teams in the future.
With the 24th overall selection in the 2012 NHL Mock Draft, Stanley Cup of Chowder, representing the Boston Bruins, selects Dalton Thrower of the Saskatoon Blades. Will he make the NHL next season, or even the season after that? Absolutely not, and that's okay.
If you look at the Bruins' current prospect pool, it's fairly obvious where they lack depth: defense. The Bruins' defensive prospects, past Dougie Hamilton, are fair-to-middling at best. While guys like Torey Krug, Matt Bartkowski, and even Tommy Cross in the future could give a boost to the Bruins' blueline, there's a lack of physicality to these players. In a few years, the Bruins will need to find a replacement for a player like Dennis Seidenberg, and a non-physical puck-passer like Steven Kampfer or Joe Corvo is the last thing the Bruins need.
When making this selection, a few other names were in play: Brady Skjei, of the USNDTP, was in play as well. One of his drawbacks is that he tends to play a little gingerly, almost; he has next to no physical aspect of his game, despite being fantastic at puck handling. One could argue, again, that the Bruins have enough future d-men with that trait, and so we decided to take a pass on Skjei.
With Dalton Thrower, physicality is no issue. Check out this highlight reel:
Thrower models his own game after his favorite player, Kevin Bieksa of the Vancouver Canucks, and Bruins fans would do well to look past the fact that he has poor taste in hockey clubs. There's a good article on his career so far posted on canada.com today which states that scouting reports have him ranked anywhere from 20th to 47th. He put up 18-36=54 totals for the Blades this year; due to injuries on that roster, he often played close to 30 minutes per game on the team's #1 defense pairing with Colorado draft pick Duncan Siemens.
Here's a little more on him from a few different sources:
Thrower is a tough, two-way defenseman that loves to throw the body and get involved at both ends of the ice. He also has very good hockey sense which he uses to make very good outlet passes to his teammates. He is often compared to Vancouver Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa. In 66 games he registered 54 points and 103 penalty minutes. Look for him to be a huge part of the Blades next year as they host the Memorial Cup.
-Dobber Hockey, April 2012
Thrower had a breakthrough season going from 20 points to 54 as he played a more prominent role with the Blades in 2011-12. He showed positive improvements with his puck handling and puck distribution skills this year and also utilized his shot more frequently, tallying 18 goals from the backend. Thrower is a tough player to play against and is a willing combatant who isn’t going to back down from a fight. Defensive play is still a point of some concern as he can be a bit erratic and has a tendency to try and do too much instead of playing a simple game.
Another potential late round / early second round selection, Thrower brings the type of skills, work ethic, and defensive play that put me in mind of a Dennis Seidenberg type player... [His] ability to take on any challenge is attractive, especially if he can transition both his scoring and defensive games to the next level.A player who can change the game with a big goal, a big hit, or a big fight is a rare commodity, and Thrower could become a major impact player for the team who drafts him in a few years.
You can find a few of Thrower's fights on hockeyfights.com, as well as another prospect profile on Lighthouse Hockey. Thrower's play may be a little raw, and he might take another few years to season, but in the end we feel he'll be the best fit among what's available at pick #24 for our Bruins. Boston is set on forward and goaltending depth; it's time to start bolstering the pool of defensemen with players who will effectively be able to replace our current blueline in 4-5 years.