It’s still early in his young career, but it looks like the Bruins may have found themselves their first legitimate home-grown tough guy in 16-year-old Tim Traber.
The big kid from Quesnel picked up his game over the back half of the season, and looked downright menacing many nights as he steamed in on opposing defenceman.
At six-foot-two and 182 pounds, Traber already has the build of a Western Hockey League heavyweight.
Give him a couple years to pack more muscle onto his frame, and he’ll be scaring opponents spitless just by looking at them.
In the meantime, he’s learning the ropes and quickly establishing a reputation as a young man who won’t back down to anyone.
“Marc (Bruins head coach Habscheid) put me in a roll at the start of the season, and I’ve tried to do the role as well as possible,” Traber said. “My job is to get pucks deep, get in on the forecheck and work as hard as possible.”
And drop the mitts if need be.
Bruins squads of the past have had guys who were effective fighters; guys like Partik Bhungal, Scott Ramsay and Randy McNaught.
But none of them had that innate mean streak that a truly intimidating pugilist needs.
None of them relished the roll.
They did it because it was expected of them, and sometimes it was the only way they were going to stay in the league. What makes Traber interesting is that he not only accepts that part of his job description, he actually seems to like it.
“I’m a big farm boy, I’m not scared of anyone and I’ve never feared guys,” the Quesnel native said. “My job is to play mean, help out my teammates and do what I have to do to earn respect in this league.”
It has been noted that on the day the Bruins drafted Traber, 51st overall in the 2008 bantam draft, the Vancouver Giants responded by drafting a couple tough characters of their own. Fans of fisticuffs may enjoy the B.C. division in the years to come.
But Traber may have more to offer than fights. In a late regular season game against the Prince George Cougars in Prince George, Traber scored twice to push his season total to four.
By his own admission, he’ll never be a guy who is looked to for goal-scoring heroics.
But if he ends up being a guy who can log solid two-way minutes and act as a deterent against opposition silliness, he’ll be an extremely valuable player for Chilliwack over the next three or four seasons.
“It doesn’t always have to be a fight,” he said. “It can be a big hit, like the kinds that Tyler Stahl makes a lot. It can be a goal. Any of those things create huge momentum for our team.”
Habscheid is impressed with what he’s seen from Traber thus far, and intrigued to see how the kid will develop.
“Early on he was struggling to figure out what type of player he was going to be at this level,” the bench boss said. “Once he realizes he’s got to be a north-south player, I think he can be a very effective player for us. WIth the fighting, I don’t think he needs to go out looking for it. If he plays the way he should, finishing checks and getting into things, that will come to him.”