That’s what you get from Akil Thomas, who is slated to be a first-round selection in the upcoming 2018 NHL Draft.
A smallish player who skates well and is a superior playmaker with soft hands and great vision, Thomas is considered a hard worker and a strong leader on and off the ice. By all accounts, the team that drafts him will get a very mature player.
Here’s what you need to know about Akil Thomas.
Team: Niagara (OHL)
From: Brandon, Fla.
Weight: 176 pounds
A PROLIFIC SCORER
Thomas was tearing it up from a very young age, putting up a 72-point season with the Toronto Junior Marlboros in the GTMMHL before being selected by the IceDogs 12th overall in the 2016 OHL Draft.
Thomas was named to the 2017 Ontario Hockey League All-Rookie Team after scoring 48 points (21 goals, 27 assists) in 61 games for Niagara. This season he led all first-time draft-eligible OHLers with 22 goals and 59 assists for 81 points in 68 games, and he added five goals and 11 points in 10 playoff games.
AN ELITE PLAYMAKER
It’s fairly obvious just looking at the assist totals that Thomas is best at making those around him better.
Sportsnet’s draft expert Sam Cosentino calls him “a jack-of-all-trades player,” and adds that “he could stand to be more selfish at times.”
Jeff Marek, believes Thomas will go towards the end of the first round. He adds: “Huge ceiling here that Thomas is only now starting to scratch.
“Put up big points in Niagara this season and can play all three forward positions. Sees himself as a centre.”
Thomas was born in Toronto, but moved to Mississippi, then to Flint, Mich., then to Oklahoma, then to Orlando, Fla., then to Jacksonville, Fla., then back to Orlando and finally back to Toronto.
Such is life when you’re the son of a career minor-leaguer, as Thomas followed dad Kahlil all over the place and got in some quality time at the rink while he was at it.
WON’T BE OUTWORKED
Thomas is known for being uber-competitive and it’s clear he’s a tenacious player.
“He needs and wants the puck, and that hunger is going to get him to the NHL,” Karl Stewart of NHL Central Scouting told NHL.com’s Mike Morreale in February. “He’s the new hybrid of NHL wingers. It used to be that the centre was the guy who touched the puck the most, but now it’s the wings who can orchestrate plays, and Thomas is that type of player.
“You won’t take the puck away from Akil Thomas just because of his hunger for it and the way he protects it.”