Coming in at number seven on our top 10 series is recently drafted first-rounder, Lassi Thomson. He was selected 19th overall with the first-round draft pick acquired in the Matt Duchene trade in February.
If you’ve missed out on our earlier segments, we’ve got you covered.
The Senators have already signed the nearly 19-year-old right-shot defenseman to a three-year entry-level contract earlier this summer. Thomson is also expected to help Finland at this year’s World Junior Championship as he should see some prime playing minutes.
A six-foot and 190-pound defenseman, Thomson recorded 41 points (17 goals, 24 assists) in 63 games playing for the Kelowna Rockets in the WHL. While Thomson is moving on to tougher competition in Finland for this upcoming season, he still gained valuable experience playing in North America for the 2018-19 season.
Thomson and the Senators’ management have wisely decided that it was better for his development to head overseas and play against men in Finland, instead of playing against weaker competition in the WHL. It’s great to see him wanting stiffer competition and seeing that he wants to get better and eventually reach that next level.
“I think it’s better for me to play against men next year and get ready to play in the NHL.”Lassi Thomson, (from ‘Sens prospect Thomson on picking Liiga over WHL, being motivated by WJC snub’, TSN.ca, 01/08/2019)
Thomson has already been praised for his high character and maturity considering his age. This is something the Senators’ management took into consideration when selecting the young Finn.
When it comes to Thomson’s game, he’s a great puck mover. He shows a ton of confidence with the puck and isn’t afraid to stickhandle between a player or two. His ability to walk the blue line and release his cannon from the point are definitely strong aspects of his game and one that many Senators fans should be able to see when Thomson makes the jump to the big club. Additionally, Thomson is able to drive the net and create scoring chances when he wants to hit the next gear.
He is also great at transitioning the puck up ice. This has been a common theme in the defensemen that general manager Pierre Dorion has been able to acquire for this rebuild.
“With the way the game has gone, being able to transition the puck is very important.”Pierre Dorion (from ‘Sens GM Pierre Dorion expects to be busy as he heads to NHL Draft’, Ottawa Sun, 06/17/2019)
A scouting report had this to say about Thomson’s play.
“His confidence and skating extend to the offensive-line, where he showed poise, patience, and lateral mobility”(from ‘Lassi Thomson’, eliteprospects.com, 2019)
Areas of Improvement
Thomson is still a work in progress, and he needs to work on a few details of his game, the first being defensive awareness. Like many young defensemen, Thomson could stand to work on his defensive game. He has good instincts, but he can be a tad risky at times. His aggressiveness can sometimes lead to turnovers or leaving opponents open in prime scoring areas.
Furthermore, Thomson could use some work on his stickhandling. It’s not awful by any means, but it can be a little choppy at times. He will also have to gain some muscle in the next few years as he needs to fill out his frame. But when he does, he’ll be a big player who will be hard to knock off the puck. Thomson could also improve his balance and agility with his time in Finland.
Projection and NHL Comparison
With Jacob Bernard-Docker and Thomson, the Senators look to be set on the right side of the blue line for years to come. Considering the left side already consists of Chabot, Brannstrom and Christian Wolanin, this could eventually become one of the brightest defensive units in the league.
Thomson projects as a top-four defenseman who can play a solid two-way game. He’s also able to score big goals and can help out on the power play with his monster shot.
If you take size out of the equation, Thomson’s game can be compared to Colton Parayko of the St. Louis Blues. While their heights are drastically different (Parayko is 6-foot-6 and Thomson’s 6-feet), they both have similar skating styles and stickhandling abilities. Both players also own cannons from the blue line and can drive plays off the rush.
Expected NHL Debut
I expect Thomson to come back to North America after this upcoming season, where he should play valuable minutes in Belleville before making the jump to the NHL. Since the Senators are weaker on the right side of the blue line, I believe either Thomson or Bernard-Docker will have a great chance of being a full-time NHL defenseman by 2021.
NHL Ready: 2021-22