C Robert Thomas, London Knights (OHL)
CSS Rank: 22nd among North American Skaters
Guided by the tutelage of the Hunter family - Dale (Owner, President and Head Coach), Mark (Owner and Vice President) and Dylan (Assistant Coach), who have set the standard for major junior hockey player development - Robert Thomas of the London Knights has developed into a defence-first centre.
They're a coach's dream: a responsible pivot, able to tilt the ice with sound and structured play. The 6-foot-0, 188-pound forward isn't known for his fanciness but still has the puck protection and hands to split defencemen when not monitoring the defensive end. The centre scored 16 goals and added 50 assists for 66 points in 66 games in the 2016-17 campaign - good for third best on the Knights.
Thomas also added three goals and nine assists in 14 playoff games on a London squad which fell in Round 2 of the Ontario Hockey League playoffs to the League-winning Erie Otters.
Ranked the 22nd North American Skater by NHL Central Scouting in a 2017 NHL Draft that has some recruiters puzzled by the talent range, Thomas could go anywhere from the latter half of Round 1 to the depths of Round 2. The positives are clear, however: a right-shooting, sturdy faceoff man with a well-educated mind for the game.
What's not to like?
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
"Most young kids embrace offence first and respect structure. This kid embraces structure, then worries about offence." - Scout via The Hockey News
"There is not a lot of flash to his game, but he's really smart and he has a real understanding of how to play and a real understanding of how to advance the cause of the team." - Scout via The Hockey News