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After putting up 12 goals and 15 assists for 27 points in 41 games in the Finnish Under-20 league last season, Lassi Thomson was selected with the Kelowna Rockets 1st round pick, 53rd overall, in the CHL Import Draft. The Finnish defender spent his draft season with the Rockets in the WHL where he put up 17 goals and 24 assists for 41 points in 63 games. It was not quite enough though as Kelowna finished tied for the league’s final playoff spot. They were eliminated as they lost the play-in tiebreaker to the Kamloops Blazers.
Thomson played some games for Finland’s Under-20 team this year but did not make the World Junior Championship team. He has represented his country in other important tournaments though. Last season he picked up two assists in seven games at the Under-18 IIHF World Championships and came home with a gold medal. He is set to return to Finland next season and is expected to play for Ilves in the SM Liiga. This hasn’t been finalized though and with the Rockets hosting the Memorial Cup, they will try to get him back.
Lassi Thomson Scouting Report
Defence — shoots Right
Born September 24th, 2000 — Tempere, Finland
Height 6’0″ — Weight 190 lbs [183 cm / 86 kg]
Thomson is a strong skater. He has good speed in both directions as well as very good acceleration, reaching that top speed in just a few strides. His edgework and agility are very good, giving him good lateral mobility which is useful in both the offensive and defensive ends of the ice. Strong pivots give Thomson the ability to transition quickly from offence to defence and vice-versa. Thomson has good lower body strength. He also has a powerful stride that allows him to fight through checks, hooks, and holds. Thomson is strong on the puck. This also helps him to be good on the boards and in front of the net.
Thomson has an excellent array of shots. He uses his edgework and agility to walk the line and open up shooting lanes. He also understands how to keep his shot low and get it on the net, in order to create opportunities for his teammates to provide screens, to tip in pucks, and to get rebounds. Thomson has a very powerful slap shot and an excellent one-timer. He also picks his spots well in sneaking down from the point and getting off a wrist shot from the top of the circles. His shot features a quick release. He can also vary things with a good snapshot. Thomson is willing to join the rush as a trailer and use these shots to his advantage as well.
While Thomson will likely always be better served to play the role of trigger man, rather than quarterback at the point, he does have some passing skills. He makes a good first pass out of the zone, starting the transition game. He is also poised with the puck on his stick, moving it out of his own end or being patient with the puck at the blue line. His stickhandling and puck protection ability are both excellent. Thomson makes the smart pass to a teammate in the offensive zone. However, he lacks a little of the creativity needed to really run the powerplay.
Thomson is good at defending against the rush. His strong skating ability helps him to keep forwards in front of him and maintain good gap control. However, he has some difficulties when defending plays in his own end. Thomson can get over aggressive looking for a big hit and get himself out of position. He can chase the puck a bit too much, not switching his coverage properly and this can leave his man open. He could also stand to be better at using his stick to cut down passing lanes.
Projection and Comparison
Lassi Thomson could become a top defenceman at the next level, however, it is more likely that with his defensive issues, he is more of a second pair player. He can be a real threat on the power play though and should be able to put up points if he properly develops. In terms of style, Thomson’s game is reminiscent of Brent Burns. This is a style comparison only, not one based on talent level.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Lassi Thomson that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect in our NHL Draft series.
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