Flames First Round Targets 2015: Thomas Chabot

From
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?

To
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.

After
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.

THE
SCOUTING REPORTS

My NHL
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.

At
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
awareness:

“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.”

Redline
Report
even claims that Chabot, “might have had the most impressive two-way
game of any blue-liner” at the CHL Top Prospects game.

Elite Prospects
continues:

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
up minutes.”

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
there.

THE NUMBERS

evening-fix-numbers-390x285

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.

CONCLUSION

Chabot burning
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.

All-in-all, the
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.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    If the Flames can’t move up to snag a Werenski type… why not move down to take a Zboril, Chabot, Kylington, Roy type, if it is a defenseman they covet. I’m not saying draft for position, but move to a spot where a defenseman is the best player available.

    Surely two or more of those player will be there at 17, 18. If there is a team who really wants to move up to take a forward at 15, I see this as not a bad move. We could do a lot with 4 second round picks! We could stock the cupboards for years to come in a deep draft or trade for immediate help on D, defense or RW prospects.

    • SmellOfVictory

      It’s an interesting thought, and if they come to a point where there are 3-4 guys available at 15 who are all pretty much equal, maybe they do try to trade down while being assured they’ll get one of those guys. Doesn’t even have to be an extra 2nd round pick they receive, but they could potentially improve one of their current picks to an earlier position as well.

      • T&A4Flames

        I’ve pondered this exact trade myself actually. I’d certainly consider it. You potentially get that future top pairing D as well as another top prospect from this deep draft.

        • Christian Roatis

          The irony would be delicious because Gormley was drafted with the 1st rounder Calgary sent to Arizona – then Phoenix – in the Olli Jokinen trade.

        • T&A4Flames

          Gormley was stuck behind a strong D core and several other good D prospects. He was left to develop, suffered a few injuries. He maintains a ceiling of potential 1st pairing. IMO, it could be a very good trade for CGY. A solid D prospect that’s years ahead in his development. Just what we need.

  • everton fc

    Man, he sounds like a young Hartley!

    I like this pick. You can tell on the video this kid is an exceptional skater.

    I like Ryan Pilon with our second pick. I also like the idea of packaging our pick a #15 a goalie or prospect to move up a few spots.

    I also like the Bean Counter’s proposal.

    Chabot and Pilon would be nice additions…

    • Christian Roatis

      Im personally quite wary of Pilon. He’s very, very similar to Eric Roy in that his offensive tools are very solid but his defence can be brutal and he can look disinterested at time.

      I still think they should take BPA at 15, whether that’s Chabot/another defenceman, or otherwise.

  • T&A4Flames

    If we keep #15, Chabot has been my pick for a while now. I love the Sanheim comparison. He was another player I was interested in. It’d be nice to acquire Sanheim if we took one of those nasty PHI contracts.

    Pilon doesn’t interest me on the 1st 2 rounds. 2 of my hopefuls are Rasmus Andersson and Zach Senyshyn.

      • T&A4Flames

        Put up good numbers playing 4th line minutes on a very good team. RW, right shot, good size. Touted as possibly the best sleeper pick. I’ve also read that on a weaker team he would have gotten more ice time and therefor could have up’d his point totals for possibly a higher pick in the draft.

    • Franko J

      If the Flames choose a D in the first round definitely in the 2nd round Zachary Senyshyn would be my choice as well. On my personal draft list I have him slotted second as one my RW’s I would target.

        • Franko J

          I like the local guy Nick Merkley. What I saw of him in the Memorial cup I was impressed by his skill, good speed and grit. What I noticed he had a little bit edge. Like all prospects there are certain aspects in his game which will need some work, however with some development I think he could turn into a real solid winger.

          Note: This is the remainder of my list for RW’s who I think would compliment the team in the future.

          3 RW: Christain Fischer
          4 RW: Keegan Kolesar
          5 RW: Conor Garland
          6 RW: Radovan Bondra
          7 RW: Gabriel Gagne

          I really like Denis Gurianov and Evigeny Svechinkov too, but I think they might be off the board when the Flames pick in the first or second rounds.

    • RealMcHockeyReturns

      I don’t mind the idea of Wayne Simmonds coming here to play 2nd line RW if we give up #15 and say Jooris and get at least another 2nd rounder from them also

  • Unless we can move into the unlikely top end to get Povrov or Hannafin. I am not liking any of the 15-30 projected defenders to be honest. all of them have scary written all over them. I’d rather see us take a BFA (best forward available) at 15, assuming we stay at 15. Pretty confident that if they dont go too far off the board there they will get a future NHLer.

  • Skuehler

    With a guy like this avail we would be foolish not to take him. It’s hard to find good defensemen with all the tools. If you find a team willing to part with one it will cost a premium vs growing your own using your systems. Draft picks don’t cost the org an asset.

    • Franko J

      Look at how many people scoffed at TB selecting Hedman. Yes D usually take a little more time to develop, however the hottest commodity at the trade deadline and in free agency is finding good defenders. The old adage is draft down the middle.

      • RexLibris

        Depends.

        I don’t remember people scoffing at Tampa Bay taking Hedman at the time, but there were (as always) questions when he didn’t come out of the gate like Drew Doughty.

        People forget that prospects take time, even the top picks.

  • T&A4Flames

    I would hardly say drafting some ranked 18th with the 15th pick is a stretch, especially in a deep draft like this year. The rankings can be a bit of a crap shoot, and if you draft a guy who’s ranked a bit lower than your position, I don’t consider that a bad thing. You could easily trade down for that player and lose him when someone else picks him above where he “should go” as well. Anyone ranked 10-25 should be considered for our team, just like anyone else in the 15-20 range in the draft.

    Look at Shinkaruk. He was top 10, if not top 5 material but dropped to the mid 20s in his draft year, and hasn’t shown a sign that his drop in the rankings was a mistake. Whereas Emile Poirier looks like a much better pick above Shinkaruk, when he was ranked in the 2nd round.

  • Skuehler

    Chabot is my favourite (within reason) pick for 15 and I don’t see it as reaching either. After the top 10, there’s going to be a lot of variation in lists. I like him better than Kylington, as well.

    I also think Svechnikov has a very high ceiling and wouldn’t mind him at 15, but he also seems to have some bust potential. Chabot is a fairly safe pick and has
    home run potential IMO.

    • FeyWest

      In order for 15: Svechnikov > Chabot (Roy/Kylington) > Konecny (Merkley)

      Svechnikov is the guy I think would be perfect for us properly developed, and if he’s at 15 I want him in Flames Silks.

      Chabot I think is going to be a bit of a sleeper pick just the way he worked to build his draft stock up and came out of nowhere, he seems to be a very malleable player and has highest development potential due to his work ethic and focus. I probably would be higher on Roy if we didn’t have (had) a lack luster Roy but I’m sure I’d warm up to that pick and Kylington i think is a sneaky drop pick and think could really flourish well given some structure.

      Even though Konecny is smaller but I think he’ll grow and be a dangerous player (hoping he isn’t injury prone) I think would complement Bennett well. Much like Merkley I think its the same but he’s a bigger version of Konecny with just a tinge smaller ceiling.

      Of course this is all just opinion and feeling I haven’t seen any of these guys play live so I’ll secede to the more well informed posters’ opinions.

      • Skuehler

        The only thing about Svechnikov is he’s about seven months older than Merkley. That’s significant.

        Konecny on the other hand is only two months older. Between Konecny and Merkley, it comes down to the fact that Konecny contributed more of his team’s offense.

        interesting: Konecny’s center (and Ottawa’s leading scorer) Dante Salituro is also draft eligible.

        • RexLibris

          Konecny’s style of play may mesh well with what we know of Sam Bennett thus far.

          Even if he eventually makes the transition to wing, you’ve still got an extra center in the prospect system.

      • RexLibris

        I don’t disagree, I just feel that while IMO Svechnikov has a slightly higher talent ceiling, Chabot is a slightly safer bet. However, I think that the two are close enough in potential that I will also defer to position in this case. D are just so valuable nowadays, especially compared to a winger.

        If this kid can be another Brodie than its a home run pick.

  • KiLLKiND

    I do agree Svechnikov is perfect for Calgary and is my pick at 15 if Zboril or someone else above him on Mckenzie’s list don’t drop down to us. Chabot I wouldn’t take over Kylington or Roy personally I believe they have a higher ceiling that could be reached with Calgary’s coaches and if Calgary did take either one I wouldn’t be upset either. Merkley hasn’t impressed me too much I live in Kelowna and I think if we picked him we would be making a mistake taking him that high. Kyle Connor and Travis Konecny seem better than Merkley but I still am not overly blown away by eithers potential.

    My top players for pick at 15

    1.anyone in the top 12 on this list http://www.tsn.ca/mcdavid-tops-mckenzie-s-final-draft-ranking-1.300634
    2.Zboril
    3.Svechnikov
    4.Kylington
    5.Roy
    6.Connor
    7.Chabot
    8.Gurianov
    9.Merkley
    10.White

    here is this pretty decent article on why Calgary should take Kylington. http://www.matchsticksandgasoline.com/2015/5/28/8676479/2015-flames-draft-profiles-oliver-kylington

  • Franko J

    Side tracking a bit but I would like to see an article based upon who could be potential trade partners for the Flames at the draft. It appears the Flames have a small surplus of forwards and a couple “b” type D prospects in the pipeline which they could potentially move for picks or maybe a young D with potential developing into a future 3/4 D.