Sometimes it can be tricky for a draft eligible defenseman to log big minutes. That hasn’t been the case for Dalton Thrower of the Saskatoon Blades.
Though the team just got Tommy Stipancik back from concussion, with injuries to captain Duncan Siemens (concussion), Matthew Pufahl (ankle) and Connor Cox (groin) there has been more than enough ice time to satisfy Thrower.
“You get used to it after a little while, playing big minutes,” Thrower said. “It’s not too big of a thing for me. I just go out and play, I don’t focus on how much I play.”
Which means Saskatoon coach Lorne Molleken can use the North Vancouver, BC product as much as he wants and needs.
“That’s my type of play,” Thrower said. “I go out there whenever the coach wants me to go to I go.”
Molleken has been happy with the play of Thrower, who has routinely logged over 30 minutes a night as Saskatoon jockeys for a playoff position in the Western Hockey League’s Eastern Conference.
“I think that he’s a real good player for us,” Molleken said. “He’s played real well for us all year and continues to improve.”
But Molleken thinks Thrower’s emergence has come well before his team was struck with a rash of injuries.
“He came back after Christmas this year and has taken it to a new level,” the coach said. “Offensively he’s done a real good job for us. It’s a situation that he understands that he has to be consistent game-in and game-out.”
Molleken’s inclination is correct. Since returning after the Christmas break, Thrower has exploded offensively with 14 goals and 32 points in 29 games.
That kind of production has Thrower creating a buzz in a league that already boasts a plethora of draft eligible defensemen in Ryan Murray, Mathew Dumba, Morgan Rielly and Derrick Pouliot.
And while it might be time to seriously consider adding Thrower into that equation, the six-foot, 180-pound defenseman won’t be caught up in the attention. If anything, Thrower will embrace it.
“Media is always fun and knowing people are always watching, it’s going to bring the best out of you,” he said. “You’ve got to have fun with it. It’s only your draft year once. You know it’s there, it’ll always be there, but you have to focus on your team first. Whatever happens with your team is going to help you in the draft.”
The latter comes from a piece of advice from Siemens, paired with Thrower throughout much of the year and a veteran of the draft process after being selected 11th overall by the Colorado Avalanche a year ago.
“He told me pretty much just not to focus on it,” Thrower said. “Just focus on the team. The further the team goes, the higher your stock.”
With Thrower earning monster minutes in Saskatoon, the two might be more closely linked than Siemens could’ve predicted.