Thomas ready to prove doubters wrong
Akil Thomas had as good a sophomore season with the Niagara IceDogs as could be expected, yet his stock dropped slightly as the NHL Central Scouting Services released their final draft rankings ahead of the 2018 NHL Draft in Dallas.
Thomas, ranked 15th on the CSS’ North American skaters’ list, was named an assistant captain this season following a team record-breaking season in his rookie year. He was ranked 10th in the mid-term rankings.
“In a way, you want to be as high as you possibly can, but it really doesn’t affect me,” Thomas said. “Its something I can’t control.
“In a way I take it as motivation. I was ranked 15th and I was 10th before so I have a lot of stuff to prove.”
Thomas finished second on the team in scoring with 81 points (22 goals, 59 assists). His point totals also placed him among the top in the league in assists and power-play assists. In 10 playoff games, Thomas ranked third in team scoring with 11 points.
Thomas also saw his defensive game grow; he finished with a plus-6 and was often matched up against the opponent’s top lines.
Thomas’ OHL season came to an end last week when the IceDogs were eliminated in the second round by the Hamilton Bulldogs, but he still has some playing to do after being asked to join the Canadian under-18 team at the world championships in Russia.
“I’m looking forward to going and starting fresh,” he said. “It happened pretty quickly. I was just asked yesterday (Sunday).
“I’m pretty happy. I have some things left to prove and now I have a chance to go and prove it.”
Niagara forward Andrew Bruder was not on the list for the mid-term rankings but came in at 114th among North American skaters.
The rookie finished the season with 11 points on four goals and seven assists in 52 games after making the jump from Junior C where he played with his hometown Woodstock Navy Vets.
Defenceman Justin MacPherson was ranked 201st of all North American skaters, down from 163 at mid-term. MacPherson came into this season stronger and ready to expand his role after seeing limited ice time in his rookie year. He finished the season playing top-four pairing minutes and contributed offensively in the playoffs with a pair of goals.
IceDogs’ prospects Jack Randl (154th) and goaltender Ben Kraws (27th) were also listed on NHL CSS’ final draft rankings.
Randl was drafted in the 10th round in 2016. He is committed to the University of Michigan for next season.
Kraws, a 12th round selection (225 overall) in 2017, is committed to play at Miami of Ohio next season.
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