Robert Thomas hasn’t had to look far for any inspiration.
The London Knights center has had plenty offered to him as he navigates through his NHL Draft season.
“I was able to look at a bunch of guys like (Matthew) Tkachuk, (Olli) Juolevi and all those guys go through it last year,” said Thomas. “I was able to learn from what they experienced and help the pressure not be as much as it should be.”
Juolevi was selected fifth overall in the 2016 NHL Draft by the Vancouver Canucks. Tkachuk went one pick later at six.
Knights teammates Max Jones (No. 26 – Anaheim Ducks), Tyler Parsons (No. 54 – Flames), Cliff Pu (No. 69 – Buffalo Sabres), Victor Mete (No. 100 – Montreal Canadiens), and Nicolas Mattinen (No. 179 – Toronto Maple Leafs) were also selected last June.
Thomas, 34th in Future Considerations’ Winter ranking for the 2017 NHL Draft, has a bit of wealth to draw on.
And he can take it a few steps further, too.
Thomas cites NHL legend Wendel Clark as having a major influence on his career to date.
Yes, that Clark.
Of 330-goal, 564-point, 1690-penalty minute fame.
Not a bad influencer.
“He coached me a lot in summer hockey growing up and I’m good friends with his son,” Thomas said. “He was really able to show me what it takes to get to that next level and show all the work you have to do and all the little things that you need to take care of.”
He must be listening.
Thomas has 34 assists and 48 points through 50 games with London this season.
What he’s doing is working.
“I definitely feel like my first half of the year was really good,” Thomas said. “I didn’t really set too many personal goals. I just know, last year we were so successful as a team…you know with team success comes individual success.”
Chances are that’s some advice he’s picked up from teammates.
And, needless to say, Thomas has plenty of ears he can bend should he need some help.
Not that he has.
Not much, anyway.
“The best advice for me was just focus on your game,” he said. “Don’t worry about the rankings and all the things scouts say. Obviously it’s important to look at but don’t really try and change your game.
“Rankings aren’t that important to me. you know its obviously nice to see when you’re on the rankings, but you know its not too disappointing when you’re not, you just try and focus on your game and you know do what you’re good at.”
Advice from those that have gone through it before, no doubt.
That kind of help is invaluable.
“I was fortunate enough that Tkachuk was able to live with me in the summer,” Thomas said.
“He really helped me out throughout the summer and just different stuff I should work on.”
With files from Dylan Galloway