a healthy scratch in Saint John’s home opener this season to a projected
mid-first round pick, defenseman Thomas Chabot has ascended the draft rankings
like it’s nobody’s business. How did that happen?
put it plainly, Chabot had a pedestrian rookie season offensively and was downright
dreadful defensively. Then again, it seems he was merely a by-product of Saint
John’s woes. In Chabot’s rookie season, the Sea Dogs were a league worst 40.9%
Fenwick Close, which explains why he was the second worst defender on the team
with a minus-29 plus/minus rating. Moreover, according to his coach Ross Yates,
he had developed some bad habits in first season and those seeped into his
sophomore year. That’s why he was a healthy scratch in his team’s home opener.
a little heart-to-heart with his coach and GM, something clicked with Chabot. He
focused almost exclusively on the defensive aspects of the game without sacrificing
his offensive production. He quickly became one of those prized two-way, puck-moving
rear-guards that NHL scouts drool over. The rest is history.
Draft has Chabot at 18th overall in their 2015 consensus
rankings, so yes, that’s a bit of a reach with the Flames in the 15th
spot. However, Chabot has steadily been on the rise since the season began. In October
and November, ISS
didn’t even have him on their radar for the first round. He finally made his
debut in the 30th spot in December, rising to 22nd and 17th
in the next two months, finally settling down between the 16th and
19th overall spots to finish the season. ISS currently has him
ranked 16th overall.
this point, it’s anyone’s guess where NHL scouts may have Chabot ranked on
their lists. If his draft positioning throughout the year is any sign, it may
not be that big of a reach for the
Flames if there’s interest there, especially with his new-found defensive
prowess and high offensive skill.
Future Considerations has Chabot
ranked at #21 and has expressed praise of his skating style and offensive
“Chabot is a
smooth skating defenseman who sees the ice well and distributes the puck with
ease. Has a smooth but very powerful stride. His stride generates healthy
amounts of speed and good lateral agility. He is ultra-creative in his passing
game and displays a confidence in moving the puck and unloading shots when
lanes become available. Has a heavy shot from the point […] Impressed some NHL
teams with his ability to make creative breakout passes and strong vision at
the U18’s in April. A guy who is still developing and could really become a
homerun pick after a few seasons of further growth.”
Report even claims that Chabot, “might have had the most impressive two-way
game of any blue-liner” at the CHL Top Prospects game.
“A quick-thinking two-way
defenseman that is able to make fast decisions and help his team whenever he is
on the ice. Possesses excellent mobility and has good individual puck skills;
can catch the opposition off guard with his speed. All-in-all, a player who
strives to be better with every shift, staying a student of the game. Has the
potential to flourish into a very reliable all-around defenseman that can eat
Reports seem to
suggest that perhaps the only area of improvement for Chabot is a little
refinement in his decision making in all three zones – and that’s all he needs,
a little refinement. He tends to make smart short and long breakout passes, but
sometimes opts for the riskier pass (and often succeeds at it). In the
offensive zone he seems to play too deep and can get caught at times. In his
own zone, at times he’ll get caught running around. All of this will change
with rigid development and proper coaching. History has shown he can make changes
in his game and has the work ethic to follow through with it.
At 6’2” and 181
pounds, you’re looking at a kid who’s already as developed physically as the
Flames’ own TJ Brodie. That’s part of what has scouts excited. Speaking of
Brodie, Chabot also has a propensity for spinning off of checks in the corners,
which speaks for his long-term durability as an NHL defender if he makes it
According to CHLStats.com,
Chabot’s numbers this year suggest that he was one of the driving forces behind
Saint John’s overall team improvement this season. He led all Sea Dogs
defenders in shots and percentage of goals created at 4.86%. Chabot made up
18.3% of his team’s total offense, just behind his draft eligible defensive
partner Jakub Zboril.
Chabot also led
all blue liners on his team with 17 primary assists, 12 of which were at even
strength. In fact, as dynamic and integral as Chabot is to his team as their
go-to power play quarterback, he didn’t feast on the man advantage as much as
you’d think. Just 34% of his points came on the man advantage.
However, his personal
basic and advanced stats are mostly behind that of teammate Jakub Zboril, who,
funny enough, typically sits within a spot or two of Chabot in most draft
rankings. This is going to be one of those ‘draft battles’ we’re going to
follow for a while. It seems as though Zboril’s ranking was affected by his
season being cut short due to injury. Otherwise, I’m not so sure Chabot should
be ranked ahead of his Czech teammate, if we look strictly at the numbers.
up the draft ranking isn’t dissimilar from last year’s Philadelphia draft pick
Travis Sanheim who just kept getting better and better until he forced himself
onto everyone’s radar.
He has drawn
stylistic comparisons to the likes of Alex Pietrangelo and Victor Hedman.
Personally, he claims to study Keith Yandle’s game closely.
Flames could do a lot worse than Chabot if they chose to move down in the draft
a couple of spots to get him. While the Flames are almost certainly going to
miss out on the really big name
defensemen out there (i.e., Noah Hanifin, Ivan Provorov and Zach Werenski),
Chabot falls into that second tier of blue-liners who are projected to be
top-four, two-way minute-eaters.
With Chabot’s consistent and steady progression,
it’s almost a certainty that progression will continue into the remainder of
his junior career which bodes well for any team willing to take a flyer on him.