Sens ink first round pick – Rockets blueline brigade could use a boost
The Ottawa Senators have signed defenceman Lassi Thomson to a three-year entry-level contract.
Ottawa drafted the Finnish defenceman with the 19th overall pick at the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver last month.
“Lassi has great offensive instincts and an NHL-calibre shot,” said general manager Pierre Dorion in a press release.
“He also brings a high compete level – he’s always moving his feet and driving the pace of play. We came away from development camp in Ottawa very impressed and feel that he is going to be an important piece of our team’s future.”
Thomson suited up for 63 games with the Rockets this past season, scoring 17 goals and 24 assists for 41 points as a rookie in the Western Hockey League. He was named the Rockets rookie of the year and earned the Western Conference Rookie of the Year nomination for the Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy from the WHL.
Thomson will compete with Finland later this month at the 2019 World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Michigan. The event, held at USA Hockey Arena from July 26-Aug. 3, features the United States, Canada, Sweden and Finland.
The competition is part of the process for each nation as they begin to construct their rosters for the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship in the Czech Republic.
Where Thomson will land next season is still up in the air.
The Rockets would dearly love to welcome him back as he was clearly the team’s top defenceman last season. Without Thomson the roster currently includes defencemen Kaeden Korczak (VGN-2019), Jake Lee, Sean Comrie, Devin Steffler, Cayde Augustine, Jackson DeSouza and Noah Dorey.
“We’re confident now since the Draft that the team that selected him will probably have some interest in considering us as a landing spot,” said Rockets general manager Bruce Hamilton in an interview with DUBNetwork last month.
“There are certain teams that reach out when they want certain players to be in certain situations.”
Thomson’s selection kicked in a busy week in late June for the Kelowna management team, with the CHL Import Draft in its crosshairs.
“We’ll involve the European draft now,” Hamilton said at the time as he explained the off-season roster juggling. “With Lassi being picked in the first round, that will allow us to pick two players.”
“Once the (NHL) Draft ended, I went to work on the list of players. You’re dealing with them about interest in coming over. We’re working away to get the right player in place.”
The Rockets selected two forwards at the 2019 CHL Import Draft – Czech forward Pavel Novak (13th) and Russian forward Daniil Gutik (73rd).
Born in Tabor, Czech Republic, Novak is listed at 5-foot-10 and 167 pounds. Last season (2018-2019) while playing with Motor Ceske Budejovice U19, the 2002-born forward played in 31 games, recording 29 goals and 16 assists for 45 points along with 16 penalty minutes. He also dressed for 20 games with Budejovice in the Czech2 league, collecting three assists.
Novak competed in the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge for the Czech Republic, recording a goal and an assist in five games. He also took part in 16 International Jr. U17 games picking up 15 points (8G, 7A) and 12 International Jr. U18, chipping in with six points (4G, 2A).
Should Thomson return to Kelowna for a second season, he would occupy one of the team’s import spots on the roster.
(Editor’s Note: Thanks to the Kelowna Rockets & Paige Bednorz for contributing to this article.)