19. Lassi Thomson (Reader Rank: 19, Last Year: 18)
If there’s one thing our writers and readers appear to agree on, it’s where Lassi Thomson falls in these rankings. This year, the writers and readers agreed that he deserves to be slotted in at #19. Last year, the writers had him 18th while the readers had him 17th.
Did we just become best friends?
Thomson, 20, made his AHL debut this past season, registering a goal and twelve assists through 35 games with the Belleville Senators. Relative to this teammates, Thomson tied Jonathan Aspirot for scoring by a defender, while he ranked seventh on the BSens in overall scoring. This past season, eight defenders at Thomson’s development stage (DY+2) participated in at least 15 AHL games. Thomson ranked fourth in primary points per game and third in even strength primary points per game. Overall, his first season in the AHL was good.
Lassi Thomson has also been really good this season. Much better defensively than I was expecting.— Everyday Sens (@EverydaySens) February 17, 2021
Smooth skater that’s getting time on the top powerplay today. Earning his opportunities. #GoSensGo pic.twitter.com/UL9Eru09yY
There was some skepticism regarding Thomson, after a few disappointing seasons in Finland, but coming to North America, all eyes were on how he’d perform in this style of game. After all, Thomson was nothing short of impressive in his year in the WHL, where he ranked second behind Bowen Byram in virtually every category, earning himself a selection in the first round. Turns out, it’s possible his game was just built for the North American style.
The aspect of Thomson’s game that particularly impressed was his speed - because it wasn’t something that jumped off the page in any of the scouting reports I’d read, or the games I’d watched before he came to Belleville. This is just one example, but it was special to see Thomson maneuver through the neutral zone relatively regularly, either getting a scoring chance or, at the very least, a zone entry.
So, where does Thomson need to go from here?
The answer is Belleville again. He’ll need at least another season in the AHL to build upon the aspects of his game that need some work. On the powerplay, he’s great. He creates offense, gets shots on net and does a good job as a quarterback. On the penalty kill, there’s work to do. It’s nothing that Head Coach Troy Mann can’t handle, it’ll just take a little more time. At even strength, the BSens scored 16 goals while allowing 25 with Thomson on the ice. This ranked him dead last for Belleville defenders in EV GF%.
A little defensive seasoning and I think Thomson could see himself rise in these rankings, while securing a spot somewhere on the Ottawa blueline within the next season or two.