Considered good at a lot of things but master of none, Akil Thomas comes up in the first round in many NHL Entry Draft projections. Born in Brandon, Florida, Thomas really grew hockey-wise when his family moved to Toronto and he was able to develop playing in one of the best developmental leagues in the world.
He will most likely be available for any of the Red Wings’ late-1st/early-2nd round picks.
Not the most impressive raw numbers, but Thomas has been expected to perform on both ends of the ice for the IceDogs this season. He was still able to lead his team in points this year.
His 1.19 Pts/Game is a repsectable number, but nothing too special. His season ranked 22nd among the entire OHL in that category, around such previously-drafted fowards as Will Bitten (1.03), Matthew Strome (1.05), and Michael McLeod (1.16).
When you see Thomas in-person, nothing pops out at you directly, except that he can always create some chances in tight places. With limited ice, he can take his opportunity and put the puck in the net, or make an elusive pass to a teammate. He seems to have average speed, but his agility is excellent.
As reported on by the Draft Analyst himself:
Thomas has good straight-line speed and average first-step quickness, but he is elusive and agile within tight spaces. Opponents find difficulty in lining up Thomas for a hit because he makes sharp directional changes and anticipates puck movement extremely well. He’s a cerebral player and an excellent stickhandler with soft hands who positions himself properly to exploit mistakes in the neutral zone. Thomas’s zone entries are calculated, meaning he identifies options beyond barreling through or around opponents. He can slow things down or pivot back in order to find trailers or cutters, and releases for the slot area immediately after connecting with a teammate.
Not just to take his word for it, but you can see exactly what he is talking about in the videos below.
— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) August 7, 2017
Fit With The Red Wings
As stated earlier, Thomas will be available for at least one of the three picks the Wings have in the late-1st/early-2nd round. He seems to be the “safest” pick out of the forward group available in those spots. There is nothing that will make him shine above everyone else, but he is most likely to find success in the NHL in a middle-6 role.
Since Tyler Wright was on the Red & White Authority podcast, and he discussed taking “home-run” picks in the draft, not going for the safe one – Akil Thomas might be skipped when he is available for the Red Wings. Although, I wouldn’t be personally disappointed if he was taken with one of those picks, but there are other players that will be considered with a higher ceiling and less of a sure thing.
Akil Thomas will be a nice pick to take for the Red Wings, but might not fit the draft attitude the Wings want to take. He definitely seems more like a pick for a playoff-bound team looking for some nice scoring depth in a couple years. Somewhat similar to the Robert Thomas pick by the St. Louis Blues last year, similar numbers and playing style.