Player: Keaton Thompson
Drafted By: Anaheim Ducks (87th overall)
Final Central Scouting Ranking: No. 53 North American skater
Height/Weight: 6'0'', 187 lbs
DOB: September 14, 1995 (17 years old)
Most Recent Affiliation: U.S. National Development Team
North Dakota native Keaton Thompson has spent the last two seasons with the U.S. National Development Team based in Ann Arbor, Mich.
In 2011-12, Thompson scored four goals and accumulated 13 points in 35 games. He followed that up with a three-goal, nine-point season across 26 games in 2012-13.
Full Scouting Report
The best asset in Keaton Thompson's game is his skating ability. He is a smooth-skating defenseman who displays good vision with and without the puck.
Scouts like Thompson's hockey sense as well.
Aaron Vickers of Future Considerations sees Thompson as a "smooth, two-way defenseman who plays a virtually mistake-free game. He’s a graceful, fluid skater who isn’t shy to jump in the rush. Seeing the ice well, he makes a good first pass and makes smart, composed play to relieve pressure.”
But other experts didn't see enough improvement from Thompson last year, and they were disappointed with his performance in the IIHF U18 World Championship.
Chris Peters of The United Skates of Hockey added that Thompson was, "Prone to some poor decision making with the puck. Thompson seemed to lack confidence while carrying it. At times he was overmatched against top lines defensively as well. The fact is, Thompson still has a lot of upside. The tools are there to be a very gifted defenseman, but he’s somewhat in a holding pattern."
Thompson is committed to the University of North Dakota, so he will have time to further develop his game before turning pro.
NHL Player Comparison
Nick Leddy of the Chicago Blackhawks. Both players are roughly the same height and weight, and like Leddy, Thompson will make solid plays to help his team even if he doesn't accumulate a lot of points over the course of the season. Look for a player like Thompson to excel at the outlet pass that helps his club transition from defense to offense.
Thompson is a smaller defenseman with good vision, but defensemen usually take a little longer to reach the NHL than forwards do, and Thompson should be no exception. Since he will be playing in the NCAA and he had a disappointing season last year, look for Thompson to wait until at least the 2015-16 season (if not 2016-17) before he becomes a full-time NHL player.
Thompson has some offensive upside, but he figures to be a second-pair defenseman who plays a smart game in all three zones of the ice if he reaches his full potential. If he falls short, he would be a third-pair D-man who can give his team some minutes without making major mistakes in his own zone.