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Edit: Drafted 87th by the Anaheim Ducks.
Keaton Thompson is one of the youngest players available in the NHL entry draft. If he was born just 2 days later he would be ineligible for the 2013 draft and would have to wait til 2014. He has played for the US National Team Development program in the USHL, in exhibition games vs College teams, and in international tournaments over the last two years.
He is committed to attend the University of North Dakota next year. Should he change his mind and decide to go the CHL route his rights are owned by the Calgary Hitmen in the WHL, who took him in the 8th round of the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft.
Born Sep 14 1995 — Devils Lake, ND
Height 6.01 — Weight 187 — Shoots Left
Thompson is one of the best technical skaters in this draft. His stride and technique are like a video of textbook quality perfections. The speed and acceleration are very good in all directions. Thompson’s pivots, edgework, and turns are picture perfect, allowing him to cover a lot of ice, change directions quickly, and efficiently close gaps in all 360 degrees of the rink. He also has excellent balance and is difficult to knock off the puck when it is on his stick.
Thompson’s defensive game has all the tools. He uses his strong skating to maintain good gap control. He is rarely beaten one on one and he has a quick stick that intercepts passes and pokes the puck away from opposing forwards. He positions himself very well, and has good hockey sense to read and anticipate the play, and so cuts down passing lanes and shooting lanes. However the criticism here is a lack of physicality and intensity. Thompson just does not hit the way one would hope and doesn’t clear the front of the net or win board battles as he should given his size and the fact he is mainly playing junior aged players right now.
In terms of offence, Thompson is a good puck mover who can start the rush with a crisp outlet pass or lead it by carrying the puck. He usually makes smart plays, but has an unfortunate habit of making some really bad turnovers when pressured. Most of the time he makes the smart play but every couple games, he’ll make that glaring turnover that is hugely frustrating. On the powerplay he is a good distributor, and his slapshot is good but not great. His hockey sense is very good and he tends to pick the right moments to pinch in to create a scoring chance, and the right times to play it safe and cover the defensive end. When he does pinch, he has an accurate wrister with a good release.
Keaton Thompson plays a style that is reminiscent of John Carlson, with less offence, however this is a style comparison only. In terms of potential, Thompson is a clear boom or bust prospect. The natural skill level, especially in his skating, and the good size physical tools he has been blessed with give him an outstanding package that intrigues scouts and can have them wiping the drool off their chins. However the lack of physical play and intensity, and the tendency to turn the puck over in his own end, are two flaws that must be corrected before he will be an effective NHL defender.
Check back tomorrow for our number 49 prospect.
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