Colorado Avalanche: Akil Thomas Offers Top Speed and Soft Hands

ST CATHARINES, ON - NOVEMBER 25: Akil Thomas #44 of the Niagara IceDogs skates during an OHL game against the Mississauga Steelheads at the Meridian Centre on November 25, 2017 in St Catharines, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
ST CATHARINES, ON - NOVEMBER 25: Akil Thomas #44 of the Niagara IceDogs skates during an OHL game against the Mississauga Steelheads at the Meridian Centre on November 25, 2017 in St Catharines, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

The Colorado Avalanche will be picking 16th in the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft. They might use that selection on Akil Thomas.

The Colorado Avalanche should have some good choices available with their first-round pick, which comes in at #16. Personally, I think they’re going to select a forward since they chose defensemen in the first and second rounds last year.

The Colorado Avalanche value speed, hockey smarts, and elite pucks skills. These are qualities that center Akil Thomas out of the OHL offers. Perhaps they’ll use their first-round pick to choose Thomas.

Let’s look at how the prospect stacks up.

Akil Thomas

2017-18 Team:Niagara Ice Dogs (OHL)
Date of Birth: Jan. 2, 2000 (18 years old)
Ht: 6’0″
Wt: 171 pounds
Position: Center
Shoots: Right

Ranked #17 by FUTURE CONSIDERATIONS

Ranked #27 by ISS HOCKEY

Ranked #18 by MCKEEN’S HOCKEY

Ranked #15 by NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING (NA Skaters)

Akil Thomas offers an exciting offensive package. In 61 games with the Niagara Ice Dogs last season, Thomas recorded 81 points (22 goals, 59 assists). He also wore the A as alternate captain.

A lot of Akil Thomas’s skill starts with his skating. Indeed, Future Considerations calls his skating ability “top-notch,” adding:

The acceleration and top-end speed he can generate from his first few steps allows him to beat defenders around the edge and pounce on loose pucks. His ability to carry and control the puck at top speed is impressive.”

Ben Kerr of Last Word on Hockey flat out calls him a “speedster” who can “absolutely fly.” Indeed, due to his “excellent technique and acceleration,” Thomas reaches his top-end speed in just a few strides.

Kerr also praises other aspects of Thomas’s skating:

Thomas adds strong edge work and very good agility… Whether it is with quick movements, or with changing speeds, he is able to get by his man and weave through traffic.”

Steve Kournianos of The Draft Analyst isn’t quite as impressed with his first-step quickness, but calls him “elusive and agile in tight spaces.”

While speed is the foundation of Akil Thomas’s skills, they don’t end there. He has an array of elite puck skills at his disposal. In fact, Kournianos calls his shot “deadly,” praising his ability to “pump shots through traffic.” He also calls Thomas “an excellent stickhandler with soft hands who positions himself properly to exploit mistakes in the neutral zone.”

Future Considerations admires Thomas’s puck control, stating it leads to “some eye-popping moves.” The site adds:

He dominates one-on-one situations with a combination of skating, awareness and stick handling ability…a very deadly shot with firecracker release.

Kerr goes into greater detail about Thomas’s offensive skills, though it mostly centers around his hockey smarts:

Thomas is a smart player taking advantage of his time and space to create passing lanes to teammates and set up scoring opportunities…He controls the puck well down low and has the vision and passing skills to find open teammates. Thomas is poised with the puck and keeps his head up.”

All sites praise his ice vision and hockey IQ. Dominic Tiano of OHL Writers also remarks that Akil has “excellent leadership qualities.”

Defense isn’t the strongest part of Thomas’s game. In fact, Future Considerations remarks that “He needs to be more dedicated in his own end.” Kerr observes that “His defensive instincts were a bit of a question mark early in the year but have really improved as the year has gone on,” adding that he’s working on a “solid two-way game.”

Akil Thomas in action:

Akil Thomas and the Colorado Avalanche

More from Mile High Sticking

Akil Thomas certainly seems to fit in with the Colorado Avalanche’s vision. Sure, he needs to work on his 200-foot game, but all prospects will have some aspect of their play they need to focus on.

What makes Thomas a tantalizing option for the Colorado Avalanche is that he moves fast and with agility, but thinks the game with the same speed and agility. And he has the stick skills to back it up.

He’s known as more of a playmaker than a finisher. I do think the Colorado Avalanche need more shoot-first kind of players rather than those who make too many fancy moves, which Thomas has been known to do. Overall, though, I don’t think that will be a detriment to the Avs choosing him.

Akil Thomas is projected to go a little lower than the Avalanche’s #16. I’d say Colorado probably has a player or two in mind before Thomas. If those players are gone, though, I think they’d be just fine choosing Akil.

MORE COLORADO AVALANCHE PROSPECTS:

The 2018 NHL Draft takes place at the American Airlines Center, home of the Dallas Stars, June 22–23, 2018. The Colorado Avalanche have each of their own draft picks as well as a second-rounder from the Nashville Predators.