Given the depth of the Los Angeles Kings’ prospect pool, Akil Thomas is rarely one of the first names brought up when discussing the team's bright future. While the Kings may have used their first-round picks on other centers over the last few years, Thomas is still a good bet to find success with the Kings in the next few years.
Thomas was selected 51st overall by the Kings in the 2018 NHL Draft and his production in junior hockey was excellent for the majority of his OHL career. Last season, which he split between the Niagara IceDogs and Peterborough Petes, Thomas scored a combined 84 points in 49 games. He was also a member of Team Canada at the World Juniors, where he scored the go-ahead goal late in the third period of the Gold Medal Game, to secure a win for Canada.
Based on the Kings’ depth down the middle when it comes to prospects though, Thomas may not end up as an NHL center. He’ll be competing against first-round picks Quinton Byfield, Alex Turcotte and Gabriel Vilardi, along with other quality prospects in Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Rasmus Kupari, and Tyler Madden. That’s not even considering current centers on the roster, in Anze Kopitar, Blake Lizotte and Michael Amadio.
That said, there’s no reason Thomas can’t find success on the wing, if he wasn’t able to win a spot down the middle. For as deep as the Kings’ prospect pool is at center, there actually aren’t a ton of top prospects on the wing and we can assume some of these natural centers could be shifted over, to play there instead.
With junior hockey now in the rear-view mirror, Thomas is set to play in his first professional season. He was loaned to Eisbären Berlin, a team in the DEL, but will likely join the Ontario Reign when the AHL season finally begins.
While we still need to see how Thomas will transition to professional hockey, signs point in the right direction for him and he’s certainly one of the most underrated prospects in the Kings organization.
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Here’s today’s poll question (results and discussion will be posted in a future article):
What do you think Akil Thomas' role will be with the Kings long-term?