#NHLDraft2013: Candidates for #46 - Keaton Thompson

(Tom Sorenson)
Keaton Thompson, Defense
USNTDP U-18
6'0", 187 Pounds 9/14/1995

I'm not going to lie, I'm a huge fan of Thompson's game. He, probably more so than anyone else I was able to view, is thee one player I would love Minnesota to draft. Why?

Make the jump.
Thompson is a blend of skill and competitiveness, but his skating is something to marvel at. So fluid and effortless directionally, The Devil's Lake, North Dakota native just hovers around the ice- one NHL scout described it as "elite." He does lack another gear in his skating, but his intelligence allows him to read and react accordingly. He likens himself to Nick Leddy, and it is easy to see the comparison.
Like Leddy, Thompson has some offensive skill to his game, although he likely will not be a massive point producer at the next level. He's got the ability to make plays, but his points will come from making plays that don't directly lead to a goal; he'll be the one who makes a play that creates the opportunity for a teammate to make a play that results in a goal/scoring attempt. That being said, he will sneak down into the slot to create scoring opportunities. He has excellent puck moving ability as well- he can skate it out or make long outlet passes, although occasionally his accuracy can wane.

He does need to add strength, as he'll get that extra gear in his skating, but also enhance his physical game; Thompson has competitive bite in his own zone. He'll mix it up after the whistle, and make life difficult for players in his crease. He won't be a punishing hitter, but he'll pinch off puck carriers along the walls and battle in the corners.

Thompson was positively superb in the viewings against NCAA competition this last Fall; he never looked out of place with the pace of play, as his heady and poised play made him one of the best players on the ice. He and Steve Santini were brilliant manning the blueline on power plays, and at times they seemed like a brick wall as they routinely knocked down and smothered out clearing attempts, and calmly moved the puck around the zone, even with players in their face. He has struggled with his consistency this year; the U-18 Championships were a rough go for him this Spring.

I believe Thompson's got pretty big upside; and spending a couple of years at North Dakota, playing in "The National", will do him good. I'd be absolutely thrilled if we drafted him.

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