Team: London Knights (OHL)
Year GP G A PTS PIM +/-
2016-2017 66 16 50 66 26 39
Continuing with the theme of center depth, today we will take a look at Robert Thomas of the London Knights. With Mike Fisher’s future in the league still up in the air, Nashville will presumably be doing its due diligence with center prospects in the 2017 draft.
Robert Thomas possesses a lot of raw ability, and if developed properly, he can become a strong top-six center at the NHL level. As a point-per-game player this year, he is one of the premier playmakers in the OHL. He excels at carrying the puck in areas of high traffic and possesses great lateral quickness.
The 5-foot-11 center displays excellent playmaking ability and has a knack for setting up teammates for high-scoring chances. Thomas’ ability to get back on rushes and help out the defense is an underrated part of his game. Nashville, as we all know, could use more strong, two-way forwards. Thomas fits that bill, using his quick stick to disrupt passing and shooting lanes and frustrate opposing forwards.
Thomas possesses top-notch stick-handling and is a great protector of the puck. He will fight for pucks along the boards, but can benefit from improving his puck presence. Thomas has a penchant to revert to a dump-and-chase style of play; much to the ire of Preds fans.
The most frustrating quality about Thomas is his reluctance to shoot the puck, or as Nashville fans call it “Mike Ribeiro syndrome.” Sometimes he focuses too much on setting up teammates that he misses plenty of scoring chances himself. He has a quick release, but his shot lacks a power punch. His teammates love him for setting them up, however, his goal scoring numbers would improve if he took more shots.
As a faceoff ace, Thomas could draw the attention of David Poile given how important winning offensive-zone draws were during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Robert Thomas looks every bit the part of a potential future No. 1 or 2 center.
What they’re saying about Thomas:
“Like his compete level. Good speed & agility, uses his skating to get the D on their heels and be first on pucks. I like this kid – does a lot of little things that go unnoticed yet win hockey games and coach’s confidence” – Dennis MacInnis, ISS Director of Scouting
“Best comparison is to former (London) Knight, Bo Horvat. And it’s not far off.” – Jeff Marek, Sportsnet
“He is a highly skilled offensive pivot who uses speed and creativity with the puck to create time and space to work the middle of the ice. Offensively, he has a very high ceiling and that’s why he’s slowly gaining momentum as a first-round candidate come June.” – Brock Otten, OHL Prospects
NHL Comparison: Derek Stepan
Draft projection: Mid-late first round