The past two NHL draft cycles have seen Nino Niederreiter and Sven Bärtschi blossom into high first-round NHL picks after coming to the Western Hockey League as relative unknowns. It might be a gun-jump to say another player from the land of the Alps is on a similar arc. However, Bozon, who is French but played in Switzerland, has made a strong impression as a 17-year-old with the Kamloops Blazers. The 6-foot-1, 178-pound left wing leads all WHL yearlings with 56 points in 52 games, while helping the Blazers reach some dizzying highs one year after experiencing some terrifying lows. He would be a frontrunner for rookie of the year honours were it not for Kootenay Ice centre Sam Reinhart, who's averaging a point per game and is 19 months younger than Bozon.
"I came here to be better on the small ice," says Bozon, whose father, former Quebec leaguer Philippe Bozon, played 144 NHL games for the St. Louis Blues in the 1990s before completing his career in Switzerland. "For the European guys, we don't know the small ice, so I wanted to learn the real hockey. Once I had a good adaptation, I felt fine.
"It's been great," adds Tim Bozon, who was 39th in NHL Central Scouting's midterm North American rankings. "It's a really good season for us. For me, it's great to be on one of the best teams in the division."
Bozon, who is fluent in four languages after spending the previous year in largely Italian-speaking Lugano, notes coming to North America has increased the impetus to become a more complete player. As it stands, his arsenal of offensive skill at least put him in the range of being a second-round pick, where NHL teams often go for a skilled player.
"I had some trouble with some my D zone," Bozon admits. "I've been working on that with my coaches in Kamloops [Guy Charron and associate coach Dave Hunchak]. I also have to work on my physical play."
Bozon's commitment to the Blazers has seemed total. He passed on representing France in a lower-tier world junior tournament in December in order to face stiffer competition in Kamloops. That said, he's proud of how he's crossed over between two different spheres of the sport.
"When I with France in under-18, we won bronze medal, in Division 1, that's something I'm really proud of," he says. "We're not really a hockey country. But if I continue to have success this year and get drafted, I'm going to be really proud for sure."Read More »from Draft tracker: 5 questions with Tim Bozon, Kamloops Blazers