I’ve made a case for pretty much any notable Kelowna Rocket in the last few years to get drafted by the Canucks but considering the current state of affairs in the organization, another puck-moving defenseman could be available if the Canucks stick close to the playoff cut line. Vancouver’s need for a right-handed defenseman is the equivalent to the Blue Jays needing pitching, the Chicago Bears needing a QB, or me needing Tacos (I can never get enough).
As the sun rises and sets, the Canucks need defensive depth.
Depending on the rankings list you follow, Lassi Thomson’s position floats around the 27th (THW) to 29th (Dobber) spots. Fellow Kelowna Rocket draft eligible teammate Nolan Foote, brother of Cal Foote (Tampa Bay), looks to go in the top 20 picks as a winger. Thomson has been higher in the rankings earlier this season but he hasn’t lit the world on fire in the last few months and was also left off the Finnish World Junior squad.
As a North American skater, he was ranked 14th as of January 21.
With the Draft being held in Vancouver this year, it’s been repeated endlessly that the Canucks will want to make a splash. Lassi Thomson will not be that player and a higher ranked defender like Vancouver Giants Bowen Byram (ranked 10th by Dobber Prospects) could be had if the Canucks miss the playoffs and slide towards the bottom of the standings.
What Thomson does bring is physicality, a presence on the PP, a good first pass, and the ability to gain controlled entry into the offensive zone. He currently sits T-3 for all WHL defenders in PPG with five markers, equal to Byram. He started this season a little empty on the goals side but his 12 tallies are 4th for WHL defensemen.
Lassi is at an estimated half a goal per 60 minutes at 5v5 this season at 0.54, 11th amongst defensemen. LT’s estimated primary points per 60 are also at a healthy 0.68 at 5v5. He leads the Rockets defense in goals (8), P1 (10), G/GP (0.16), P1/GP (0.20), and GF (38). Statistics courtesy of Prospect-stats.com.
He needs to work on raising his shot but he does deliver:
— Kelowna Rockets (@Kelowna_Rockets) February 3, 2019
— Kelowna Rockets (@Kelowna_Rockets) January 20, 2019
Thomson has become known more and more in the WHL, and more specifically in Kelowna, for his end to end rushes. Here’s a great goal earlier this season that speaks volumes about what he can accomplish.
— Eliteprospects (@eliteprospects) October 28, 2018
He also has a few Petterson-like dangles that could be a nice addition to well… Elias Pettersson:
— Kelowna Rockets (@Kelowna_Rockets) November 12, 2018
Lassi is usually good for at least one statement hit per game. He uses the boards to maximize impact and he’s added a few memorable open-ice hits this season as well.
Based on Jeremy Davis’ pGPS system, here are the comparables to Lassi Thomson:
Notable defensemen close in relation to Thomson are former Rocket Damon Severson, Matt Dumba, and Ryan Murray.
The likelihood of LT panning out as an everyday NHLer is pretty good. Jeremy’s Tier Chart shows Lassi Thomson has a 33% success rate which is essentially saying you’ll see him night in and night out once he’s ready.
All in all, Lassi Thomson will fade towards the end of Round 1 in the Draft this June and if the Canucks are lucky, they might be able to land him early in the second round ala Kole Lind.
Pay attention to the Finnish defender going forward this year and definitely next season when the Kelowna Rockets host the 2020 Memorial Cup.
It will take the sting off of the current defensive makeup in Vancouver.