With their third pick of the day the Tampa Bay Lightning selected Sudbury Wolves defenseman Jack Thompson with the 93rd selection of the draft. It was nice to see that the Lightning finally remembered that they OHL existed as Thompson was the first player they’ve drafted out of that league since 2016 when they picked three players (Boris Katchouk, Taylor Raddysh, and Christopher Paquette). The 6’0 180lb defenseman doubled his offensive output in his second year with the Wolves as he racked up 32 points (13 goals, 19 assists) from the blueline.
He seemingly has the tools that project him as a potential NHL blueliner. He can skate, he can shoot, and has a solid first pass out of the defensive zone. Central Scouting had him ranked 60th in their final draft rankings of North American skaters.
The reports on him indicate that he might fill a need that the Lightning lack in their prospect pool at this time - an offensive defenseman. The positives seem to outweigh the negative, but very few blueliners can make it to the NHL simply on their offense. The biggest area he seems to need to work on is his defensive positioning and decision making. In the Lightning system, those are extremely important areas.
HockeyProspect.com praised his shot and ability to set up his teammates, especially on the power play. They were concerned about his intensity concerning puck battles and physicality. At 6’0 he isn’t a towering presences, but he is solidly built and he should get stronger as he gets older.
Lauren was slightly mystified by the pick, not so much because of his tools, but where they drafted him. Chances are he would still have been available at pick 116. That’s not a huge knock and now that he’s in the system the only thing that matters is how he develops. From all accounts, don’t expect him to be in Tampa any time soon. He will most likely spend the next few seasons in the OHL (without Quinton Byfield most likely) and then spend a year or two at least in the AHL.
Thompson could have a similar development path as another right-handed defenseman in the Lightning system - Ben Thomas. Like Thomas, Thompson is a decent skater for his age and both have been profiled as defenders who project to be stronger in the offensive zone than the defensive zone.
He has the skills to make a difference in the offensive zone, and every team will go out of their way to see if a right-shot defender can make it. What Thompson will have to work on his honing the defensive positioning and learning the angles necessary to cut off offensive attacks. Being able to learn that, and adapt his game will be the difference between him making it and staying in the NHL or languishing in the AHL.