Robert Thomas can now rest easy. He is officially a member of the St. Louis Blues.
“I have definitely not been having the best sleeps the past couple of weeks,” Thomas said before the draft. “It’s definitely the not knowing. You find out at the scouting combine that (development camp) starts on Monday. You really have no idea where you’ll be.”
Uncertainty like that led to a fair share of tossing and turning. It also led to something else.
“I’ve had a couple of dreams where teams selected me, so that made it interesting,” Thomas laughed.
But those always ended when he woke up.
On Friday in Chicago, Thomas made the walk to the stage to meet members of the Blues’ organization that could be his home in a few short years.
The Aurora native caught the eye of London Knights’ head coach, Dale Hunter, in his minor midget year and became a second-round pick of the Knights in 2015. He saw regular duty with the Knights as they won the Memorial Cup in 2016, grew into a dependable point-per-game player in his second year and jumped up into the first round of the NHL Draft.
Thomas believes his rise on the NHL radar had a lot to do with the way his game changed when he began his career with the Knights.
“My style of being a playmaker is something I have always had, but I think I have been able to become more of a complete centre. Not just an offensive guy, but a defensive guy. I owe a lot to Dale and the whole London program for developing me. I wouldn’t be in the same spot I am today if it wasn’t for them, so I have been lucky.”
Scouts often talk about Thomas’s ability to do the kinds of things that help teams win.
Some see a little Bo Horvat in him from a physical sense. If you were going to create a prototypical hockey body, you would use someone like Horvat or Thomas to build the mould.
But Mark Edwards of Hockeyprospect.com says they are different players.
“We’ve heard Horvat comparisons and I don’t subscribe to that… but I do see the responsible, high hockey IQ aspect. I think Thomas is an excellent puck mover with a high IQ and is seen as a third-line centre or winger that is very reliable.”
In today’s NHL, descriptions like that tend to translate into long careers.
The next chapter for Thomas began with the 20th pick of the 2017 Draft.
When his name was called, he leaned over and hugged his mom.
Thanks to those sleepless nights, he had already pegged the first hug for her.
And it happened. The walk to the stage happened. Thomas put on a hat. He put on a sweater. He became a member of the NHL fraternity. All of it happened.
None of it was a dream.
It was more like a dream come true.