Weight: 188 pounds
Date of birth: July 2, 1999
Hometown: Aurora, Ontario
OHL Draft: Round 2, 26th overall, 2015 Priority Selection
London Knights’ center Robert Thomas played his minor midget hockey for the York Simcoe Express during the 2014-2015 season where he scored 18 goals to go along with 27 assists in 34 games as an Alternate Captain. He would also score 3 goals and 2 assists for the Express’ 4 games at the OHL Cup. Thomas would also represent Team OMHA White at the OHL Gold Cup. In 5 games, he would score 4 goals and two assists. The Knights would select Thomas in the second round of the 2015 OHL Priority Selection, 26th overall.
Thomas would make the Knights roster a season ago, but on a very deep squad – and usually the case with Coach Dale Hunter – he spent many nights watching from above or playing limited minutes mostly with fourth line duties. Yet, the then rookie still managed to score 3 goals and 15 points in 40 games. Thomas also represented Canada at the World Hockey Challenge Under-17, registering an assist in 6 games.
It was an ill-timed – and deserving – suspension to Max Jones that allowed Thomas to get quality minutes during the 2016 playoffs scoring once along with 4 assists in 15 games. The Knights would advance to the Memorial Cup where he would add another assist in 4 games.
Being on winning teams is nothing new for Thomas. He has a WHC Under-17 gold medal, an OHL Championship and a Memorial Cup under his belt. And his Knights are legitimate contenders for another OHL Championship and Memorial Cup.
Thomas has an intriguing assortment of assets. First and foremost is his hockey smarts. There are few players that think the game better and he can process things at an elite level. When he has possession of the puck, he can dissect the opposition in his offensive zone with his superb passing abilities.
Secondly, Thomas is an exceptional skater with high end acceleration and top end speed, not only going north-south but can swing east-west, maintain possession while surveying the ice and set teammates up for scoring opportunities. He has an ability to slow the game down as well, buying time for his teammates to move into prime scoring position and then feeding them with slick, tape-to-tape passes.
Finally, he is one of the Knights hardest workers – if not the hardest. He puts the effort required to be successful game to game, shift to shift. He puts that same effort in the defensive zone as he does in the o-zone. He has become a key member of the league’s sixth best penalty kill for Coach Hunter and is an offensive threat with a man down with three shorthanded points on the season.
Thomas is known as a playmaker first – and rightfully so. His shot is underrated with a surprisingly quick release that can catch goaltenders off guard. With 16 goals on just 125 shots, he’s scoring at a 12.8% clip. If he could add shooting more to his repertoire, he could set defences back even more with the uncertainty of what he will do. He currently ranks ninth on the Knights in shots on goal, but tops in assists.
In a sentence, this is the best way I can describe Thomas: If you don’t keep him close and in your vision, you’re going to get burned.
Thomas was ranked 28th among North American skaters on NHL Central Scouting’s mid-term rankings.
This is the profile page of Robert Thomas at Elite Prospects