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Photo Credit: Marissa Baecker

Canucks Thin At D, Rockets 2019 Draft Prospect Lassi Thomson Could Help That

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:

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.

He also has a few Petterson-like dangles that could be a nice addition to well… Elias Pettersson:

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.

  • Here are the great and scary things about the draft. Look at Canucks defensemen, Edler late 3rd round, Hutton late 5th round, Stecher and Tanev not drafted by any team !!!
    Pouliot and Gudbranson high first rounders.
    The draft is a crap shoot and you have to avoid getting the crap. Yes high picks are great to have, but great players are better .

    • Ya man, that’s weird how that works out, both Hutton and Stecher have really stood out if you compare from where they were last season. Then you look at players mentioned, and wonder why they are even in the NHL if it wasn’t because of their draft pedigree

      • It’s called prospects developed through the draft and then development phase.
        There were six years under Gillis and he left the team with ………..Hutton.

    • I suspect it’s because defensemen take longer to develop than forwards, which makes trying to figure out which ones are going to become NHL caliber by how they play when they’re 17 years old rather difficult.

  • There are lots of good defenders in the 15 to 45 range which is why we need to load up on picks.

    I like the top 6 (Hughes, Kakko, Byram, Cozens, Dach and Podz) and if we arent picking there id be trying to trade back. Buffalo has 3 picks maybe we could do a 2 for 1 deal. Id be happy if we could land a RHD and a LHD in the first. Taking either Seider or Soderstrom and one of Vlasic, Kokkonen, Harley, Robertson with the Buffalo picks.

    Then in the 2nd round take another D, hopefully a righty. Thomson would be a good pick up, even Korczak would be alright or Bjornfoot a lefty.

  • Lot’s of talk about how the Canucks will want to make a splash since the draft is in Vancouver. So, exactly what would be the consequences if we don’t make a splash? Exactly.
    Pick according to what’s best for the team, not what makes the biggest splash…even though I’m pretty sure they are one and the same. Why not strive to make a splash every year then?

    • Exactly. I’m tired of all these armchair GMs saying the Canucks have to make a splash at the draft just because it’s in Vancouver. How do I take CA seriously when they make such illogical comments? Benning should be making decisions that are best for the team. Not making a “Splash”!

    • The consequences would inevitably be Benning receiving yet another contract extension no? Isn’t that how the team operates lately? Giving out extensions to all the wrong bums….right when their stock is at its lowest.

  • Ok, lets say at the end of the season the top three prospects are:
    1) Jack Hughes , Centre
    2) Kaapo Kakko, RW
    3) Bowen Byram, D

    and the Canucks get a lottery pick, which one would you like and why? ( no trading down etc. of picks)

        • Are you really that clueless? Clearly the hypothetical top three are Michael Jordan, Uncle Heffy and Connor McDavid. Since Jordan plays hoops and McDavid is property of the Oilers, the only valid choice is Uncle Heffy. I’ll accept a contract of only $250k / yr for 12 years. Totally cap friendly and includes a hometown discount because my sister lives in Fort Saskatoon. Done deal. Gas Monkey got paid!

  • I saw this kid play early in the year. His poise and playmaking was impressive, I thought. He stood out as the best Rocket, and maybe the best player on the ice that night (they played Vancouver).