The aim of our First Round Targets series is to profile a number of different players that could be options for the Leafs either at 24th overall or at some other point in the draft depending on a few different scenarios. Without further ado, let’s turn our focus to the latest subject of this series. Today we profile Thomas Chabot, who along with teammate Jakub Zboril is one of two Saint John Sea Dogs defensemen expected to be taken in the first round of this year’s draft.
THE NUMBERS TEST
Chabot’s draft year numbers are solid but unspectacular. Here are Central Scouting’s 10 highest-ranked QMJHL defensemen, sorted by points per game:
With 41 points in 66 games this season, Chabot boasted good numbers. But as we can see, this really only puts him in the middle of the pack among this year’s other top draft-eligible QMJHL defensemen. When you take a look at the Shots Per Game column it’s the same thing: Chabot’s numbers are good, but they don’t really compare to the likes of Jeremy Roy, Jakub Zboril, and Nicolas Meloche.
In addition to a good season with Saint John, Chabot got the opportunity to represent Canada at the World Under 18 tournament this past April. Here Chabot put up 5 points in 7 games (1 goal and 4 assists). Those 5 points were tied for 3rd among defensemen in the entire tournament, and tied fellow Canadian Parker Wotherspoon for the team lead among defensemen.
Using the projection tools, Chabot also fares reasonably well. According to The Projection Project, Chabot historically has a 34% chance of becoming an NHLer, with the majority of his comparables who did make the NHL being either 2nd- or 3rd-pairing players. Among the names that compare closely to Chabot using this tool are Rusty Klesla, Nick Schultz, and Kurtis Foster.
The PCS% projection tool says Chabot has a 14.81% chance of playing at least 200 NHL games, with his NHL comparables putting up an average points per game rate of 0.29, which equates to 23.78 points over an 82 game NHL season. Among the NHLers that compare with Chabot using this tool are Brandon Gormley and Zbynek Michalek.
Aside from his point totals, another good number for Chabot is his height. Measuring in at 6″2′, Chabot has ideal size for an NHL defenseman.
THE EYE TEST
As someone whose seen Chabot play a fair number of games, I don’t think the numbers do him justice. His numbers are alright, but you look at them and think, “okay, this is someone who is maybe deserving of being a first-rounder”.
But when you watch Chabot, the talent is obvious. He’s a smooth skater with a long and powerful stride. Chabot is also both a very confident and adept puck-mover and puck-handler and he has a certain confidence when skating up the ice with the puck. His wrist shot is okay at best, but he’s really more of a passer and distributes the puck well much in the mold of your prototypical puck-moving defenseman.
Make no mistake though, Chabot is as good defensively as he is offensively. He has above average one-on-one ability and closes the gap well, and also has high-end awareness as far as defensive zone positioning is concerned. One of the knocks on him would be his lack of physicality, but he plays the game in such a way that I really don’t think this is a big issue for him.
To me the thing with Chabot is the way that all of his skills combine in harmony. That’s what makes him a really good prospect. He passes the eye test in a big way and yet looking at his numbers you can tell that he has so much more growing to do as a player. Matching up great numbers to go with his pro-style of play is going to be a big part of his development moving forward.
Here’s a good shift-by-shift video of Chabot to give you a better idea in your own mind of how exactly Chabot plays the game:
DOES HE MAKES THE LEAFS’ SHORTLIST?
He should. Say what you want about his average-at-best numbers, but Chabot offers enough as far as the eye test is concerned to be a legitimate first-round pick. In fact, I know if I were a team picking in the 10-20 range I wouldn’t let Chabot slip as far as the Leafs at 24. That aligns with what a lot of the other scouts are saying: Chabot is currently ranked 10th by Craig Button, 12th by Hockey Prospect, 15th by McKeen’s, 16th by ISS as well as Central Scouting (North American skaters), and 21st by Future Considerations. He’s ranked 45th by ESPN’s Corey Pronman though, so clearly not everyone is as high on him. There’s usually at least a couple of players that slide much further than expected, so the possibility remains that Chabot could be there at 24. And hey, if the Leafs really like him, they could always trade up to grab him, or snatch him up if they were to acquire another first-rounder through a trade.
In any event, I’m a big Chabot fan, and would be pretty happy if the Leafs were able to draft him.
Other First Round Targets: