There has been a disturbing lack of defensemen on my list to this point, something I intend to rectify immediately. Next on my list, at #13 is Thomas Hickey. Thomas made his presence felt within the organization the second he took the ice as a 15-year-old. He got his first taste of the Western Hockey League during the 2004-2005 season when he got his five game call up and produced three points (2 G, 1 A). His production from the point would become his calling card during his tenure in Seattle.
Hickey’s first full season in Seattle came in the 2005-2006 season showed that he had all the offensive prowess you could ask from a young blue-liner in the Dub. In 69 games played, he put up an impressive 28 points (1G, 27A). He also represented Hockey Canada at U18 Ivan Hlinka tournament. This was not the last time he wore the Maple Leaf during his major junior career.
The following season Hickey cemented himself as a premier offensive defenseman in the WHL. His vision and skating ability made him dual threat, being able to carry the puck out of the zone and jump into the rush, while also being able to dish the puck to teammates. He improved in all statistical categories in 2006-2007, scoring nine goals, while adding 41 assists for 50 points. His noticeable talent caught the eyes of NHL scouts. Hickey was selected fourth overall by the Los Angeles Kings at that summer’s NHL entry draft. To this day he is the highest drafted d-man in Seattle Thunderbirds team history.
In the 2007-2008 season, Hickey took a step back in offensive production to focus on improving his defensive game. Hickey also was promoted into a large leadership role for the Thunderbirds, taking on top assignments defensively and quarterbacking the team’s top power play unit. It was the first year in many that Seattle had two legitimate top scoring lines, which greatly reduced how much they relied on their blue line for point production. Even with this shift in systems, Hickey was still 10th in scoring in the league among defensemen. Hickey also had the opportunity to represent team Canada at the World Junior Championships that winter, where he helped Canada to a gold medal.
Hickey’s final season with Seattle was a tale of two seasons. The first half saw Thomas really focus on rounding out his defensive game to round out as a true two-way defenseman. He represented Hockey Canada for the second consecutive year at the World Juniors not only helping them to a second consecutive gold medal, but was named team captain. His second half of the WHL season saw Hickey go on an absolute tear to finish his junior career, posting career highs in all offensive categories, 16 goals, 35 assists for 51 points.
Hickey spent the next five seasons with the LA Kings AHL affiliate at the time, the Manchester Monarchs. In 2013, Hickey was placed on waivers, where he was claimed by the New York Islanders. He is still with that organization playing in a middle or bottom pair role.
Hickey’s impact to the Seattle Thunderbirds organization was immediate and lasting. His attention to detail on both sides of the puck showed his commitment not only to his personal game, but to make the Thunderbirds the best team they could be. He is a welcome addition to this list.