With centres on the St. Louis Blues roster like Brayden Schenn and Ryan O’Reilly, it may be easy to overlook Robert Thomas, but don’t do it. The rest of the league underestimates the second-year centre. When opposing teams think of the Blues’ forwards they need to watch out for, their minds automatically go to the first line of Jaden Schwartz, Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko, as well as O’Reilly and David Perron on the second line. But they should really start to see Thomas for what Blues fans see him as—an emerging superstar.
Robert Thomas This Season
In 66 games this shortened season, Thomas had a career high 10 goals and 32 assists for 42 points. He finished sixth on the team in points, behind O’Reilly, Perron, Schenn, Schwartz, and Alex Pietrangelo. Thomas only averaged 14:34 of ice time per game this season, while all five of those players averaged at least 18 minutes a game. His possession numbers were 51.9 percent Corsi and a relative Corsi of 0.9. Of players who were in the lineup regularly, Thomas had the fifth-highest Corsi percentage behind Vince Dunn, Schwartz, Pietrangelo and Perron.
Thomas did not have any points in the Blues first Round Robin game against the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday, but the playoffs are just getting started. If his production in the regular season is any indication of how he will perform in the playoffs, the Blues could give him more ice time if the top two lines are struggling to score.
Last season, Thomas had nine goals and 24 assists for 33 points in 70 regular season games. Don’t forget he was a rookie for the Blues. He averaged 13:04 of ice time per game. And like this season, spent most of his time on the third line. His production decreased in the playoffs. He only had one goal and five assists for six points in 21 playoff games. His possession numbers in the regular season were 51.3 percent Corsi and a relative Corsi of -0.1. Even in his rookie season, Thomas was in 10th place among players that played the majority of the season with his Corsi percentage.
It’s obvious just looking at Thomas’ point production from last season and this season that he has been given more responsibility. When compared to last season, it has paid off for the Blues and for Thomas.
In the Future
He showed glimpses of this in his rookie season. Every time Thomas touched the puck this season, he had everyone paying attention to him. They were excited or scared to see what he did next. He has a way with the puck that will eventually earn him a promotion to a higher line. There, he will get to play more minutes and most likely contribute more offensively.
Even if the Blues can afford to keep Schenn until he retires, which seems unlikely; O’Reilly will likely take over as the centre on the first line. That sets Thomas up to take over O’Reilly’s spot as the centre on the second line. Thomas is a big part of the future of the Blues and opposing teams should start treating him like it.