I once was the idiot who was okay with trading Robert Thomas. Heck, I even infamously predicted it.
But the laws of hockey logic and good sense ruled over, and Thomas wasn’t traded to the Buffalo Sabres for Ryan O’Reilly. Both hoisted the Stanley Cup last year and are on pace to do it again this spring. Both are playmakers from a different breed, one that doesn’t with modest producers. They make passes and move like machines with an extra brain on the ice, cutting through defenses and befuddling goaltenders. When the puck hits their stick, it’s appointment television for St. Louis Blues fans.
Thomas isn’t wasting any time. The kid won’t be legally able to purchase an alcoholic beverage until the second day of free agency this summer but has taken a tool on the world of hockey. It began last year with a flourish, kicking into hyper-driver with Thomas’ playoff performance. He was the guy that charged the Dallas net and fired a shot that beat and collapsed Ben Bishop in net, leading to Pat Maroon’s tap-in winner. He was a veteran stuck in a rookie’s body.
Overall, Thomas contributed 39 points in 91 games: A modest total by any means, but one that hid so many of his virtues.
You can’t just stare at a stat board and complete the Thomas equation. Take away the quick skate and stick and youthful package, and you haven’t put a dent in his value. Thomas can do just about anything he wants on the ice, treating opposing players like traffic cones at times. If he makes a mistake, it’s usually one of his own making. Otherwise, it’s a one-sided affair.
Just look at Thomas this season. Coming into tonight’s game in New Jersey, he had 40 points in 62 games and was a +10. He also assisted on Vince Dunn’s ninth goal in the first period, doing something one could call nifty and another could view as dreamy. Make that 41 points in 63 games. Improving on last year but only getting warmed up.
I once valued Jordan Kyrou over Thomas. While that battle is far from officially over, I could be labeled for the second time on one player. Sometimes, you can’t buy into a prospect. The Blues didn’t exactly grow these on trees for many years, fumbling big draft slots and leaving fans scratching their heads. I bought into Kyrou’s flashy point total and dismissed Thomas’ more effortless skills. I’m glad I was wrong.
Thomas will only get better, continuing to set up young guys like Zach Sanford and older scorers like David Perron. He helped turn Maroon into a hometown legend. Thomas is only get started in St. Louis. The list of names lifted by his presence will get very long quite fast.
While many Blues fans were looking up Jack Hughes during troubling times a little over a year ago, they were probably overlooking Thomas. One of those guys has a Stanley Cup ring.
One belongs to St. Louis for a long time, possibly his whole career. You never know in this game, but Thomas continues to amaze me.
I once wanted to trade him. I was a slow learner but in the end, I learned.