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A mediocre first season in the QMJHL, especially in his defensive game, had many questioning the possibility of an NHL future for the Saint John Sea Dogs second round round pick in 2013, Thomas Chabot. Sure he looked good in the offensive end of the rink, but the 6’2″ defenceman looked completely lost in his own end. Chabot must have spent last summer working on that aspect of his game, because he’s taken huge strides forward this year, enough to make him one of Team Canada’s most relied upon defencemen at the 2015 IIHF U18 World Championships. Chabot hasn’t sacrificed the offensive production though, as he put up 12 goals and 41 points in 66 games for the Sea Dogs this year. He’s also added a goal and four assists in just four games with Team Canada at the U18s.
Defense — shoots Left
Born Jan 30 1997 — Ste. Marie-de-Beauce, PQ
Height 6.02 — Weight 180 [188 cm/82 kg]
A silky, smooth skater, Thomas Chabot shows high potential as puck moving defensive prospect. He has the speed to join or lead the rush, and get back defensively. He has the strong edgework and agility to pivot quickly and cover large areas of the ice, or to walk the line and open up passing and shooting lanes. His balance is decent and helps him to work on board battles in the corners and in front of the net. This is an area that can improve though, and it should improve just by increasing muscle mass and lower body strength. In terms of backwards skating, he can sometimes get caught flat footed and beaten wide on the rush, but this happens far less frequently than it did when he was a rookie. In fact you can continue to see the improvement just in comparing the second half of this season against the first half of the year.
Thomas Chabot is calm and composed with the puck, has good stickhandling ability and can make a strong pass either to start the transition, or set up a play from the blueline. His slap shot is decent, and he has good accuracy, but he could stand to add some more muscle, and make it even harder. He also has a decent wrist shot which he uses off the rush, and when he does not get the time and space necessary to load up his shot at the blue. He has the passing skill to be a very good quarterback on the powerplay. He also starts the rush with a very strong first pass, whether it is the short breakout play to get things moving in the other direction, or its a knack to hit a teammate with a long stretch pass for a breakaway or odd-man rush.
Defensively, Thomas Chabot has good positioning and is willing to play a physical game in front of the net and in the corners. The positioning and ability to read and react to plays have been a huge part of Chabot’s turnaround. He is also able to avoid the forecheck and skate the puck out of danger in his own end of the rink. One on one he can be tough to beat, and while he doesn’t always look for the huge hit, and will not let such hits get him out of his positioning. He maintains good gap control and when that big hit is available, he will take advantage of it. Chabot is willing to use his stick to break up passes, and to use his body to block shots.
Thomas Chabot has very high upside. He may never be the big bomber from the point on the powerplay, but he could definitely quarterback an NHL powerplay if he reaches his potential. He’s also a potential #1 defenceman on his team, but it is more likely he settles into a top 4 role. Chabot’s game is reminiscent of Victor Hedman, but this is a style comparison only and not a talent one.
Below are some videos of Thomas Chabot in action.
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Main Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images