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Thomas thrilled to be picked by St. Louis

Blues use first pick in NHL Draft on playmaking center from Canada

by Chris Pinkert / St. Louis Blues

CHICAGO - Robert Thomas had given a lot of thought to what it would feel like getting drafted by an NHL team.

It started with anxiously waiting to hear his name called, then actually hearing it over the PA system at United Center in Chicago and celebrating with hugs from friends and family who helped him get there.

Next, it's trying to calm the nerves as you walk up to the draft stage, shake hands with the commissioner and then put on an NHL jersey for the first time.

But on Friday - immediately after Thomas was drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the first round (20th overall), something happened that he didn't expect.

He got booed.

"Well, I know there's a huge rivalry with the Chicago (Blackhawks) because I got booed walking up to the stage," Thomas said. "I've had a couple of rivalries (playing with the) London Knights, so I'm used to it. But nothing at this scale. It's fun to be part of."

If all goes well, Thomas will have plenty of opportunities to get booed again by Blackhawks fans in the future when he wears the Blue Note. The 6-foot, 193-pound center has good hockey sense and is a smart, creative playmaker. According to NHL Central Scouting, Thomas has the ability to make players around him better and is hard working - capable of making a difference every time he's on the ice.

Video: Behind the scenes with Thomas after draft selection

"I'd say I'm a smart, two-way playmaking center," Thomas told when asked to describe his game. "I think I'm very responsible defensively and also very creative offensively."

Last season, Thomas finished third in scoring with the Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, scoring 16 goals and 50 assists in 66 regular-season games. In 14 playoff games, he scored seven goals and five assists (12 points).

As a rookie, Thomas won an OHL and Memorial Cup Championship in 2015-16.

Thomas said he met with Blues scouts several times, so he knew the Blues were a potential destination. He said Blues staff compared him to current forward Robby Fabbri.

"It's a pretty special feeling," Thomas said of being drafted. "Obviously it's everyone's dream to hear your name called and be drafted by such a great team like St. Louis. It's such a dream come true. Words can't describe how excited I am."

Video: Thomas goes one-on-one with Pang

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