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Bordeleau out to stay sharp ahead of 2020 NHL Draft with his season over

Prospect from USA Hockey NTDP at home with dad, former forward Sebastien, due to coronavirus @NHLdotcom

Thomas Bordeleau has an advantage as he tries to stay sharp after the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 team's season was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic.

His father, former NHL forward Sebastien Bordeleau, is at home with him in Terrebonne, Quebec.

Sebastien is the forward development coach for the Nashville Predators, but the NHL season was paused March 12 due to the concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

"I'm just trying to stay in shape and to practice as much as I can at home," said Thomas, an 18-year-old center who is one of the top prospects for the 2020 NHL Draft, scheduled for June 26-27 in Montreal. "I'll go for walks to stay sharp mentally, clear my head. That's really important. The longer people stay home, the shorter this quarantine will be. I completely respect that and I'm keeping myself in shape now in order to be ready for whatever happens next. I have a small gym in the house, and now my dad is also back home."

Sebastien played seven NHL seasons with the Montreal Canadiens, Predators, Minnesota Wild and Phoenix Coyotes.

Thomas led the NTDP with 46 points (16 goals, 30 assists) in 47 games this season. He is No. 26 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of North American skaters for the 2020 draft and has committed to the University of Michigan for next season.

His season ended when the 2020 IIHF World Under-18 Championship was canceled on March 13. The tournament was to be held April 16-26 at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan, the NTDP's home rink.

"I think I proved what I had to prove," said Thomas, who was born in Houston. "I played in every situation, I helped my teammates be better and I did what I had to do. I took a huge step this year. Sure, the U-18s would have been another platform to solidify certain things, but I think I did what I had to do during the season. This doesn't just affect me, that's also the case for a lot of other players. At this point, it's all beyond my control. I had a very good season and I have no regrets. There's always someone who's watching you and rating you, so I tried to play every game like there was no tomorrow, and I think I did a good job playing that way."

Coach Seth Appert said the biggest step for Thomas was learning how to use his size (5-foot-9, 179 pounds) to his advantage.

"The commitment to get inside on people when he has the puck and when they have the puck," Appert said. "That's a part of his game that has grown tremendously, especially in the (age) 18 year. He has the mind and the stick skills and the vision to be an elite offensive player. But as a centerman, if you don't want to possess the puck when we have it and get it back when they have it, then you're not going to be an elite player in today's game. He's really grown in that. … As Thomas has gained confidence and strength, he's so strong on his skates that he's very good down there (low in the offensive zone). Just a matter of understanding and gaining confidence in how to play that way." staff writer Guillaume Lepage contributed to this report

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