The Ottawa Senators have reportedly loaned defenceman Lassi Thomson back to Ilves of the Finnish SM-Liiga until further notice.
European leagues are already working on returning to action and the NHL and AHL seasons are not expected to begin until December at the earliest, leaving a number of prospects needing to find ways of playing regular hockey in order to continue developing.
Thomson, who captained his country at this season’s World Junior Championships, will continue to play professional hockey against grown men, refining his game after his impressive rookie campaign in his homeland.
After being drafted out of the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets, Thomson returned to Ilves, whose system he had previously spent his youth career with, and registered seven goals and 13 total points in 39 regular-season games – the fourth most among Ilves defencemen.
The 6-foot, 190lbs right-handed blueliner has a bright future ahead of him and could be in line to make the NHL roster within a year or two at the latest, with a brief spell in the organisation’s AHL affiliates the Belleville Senators likely the next step forward in his development before receiving the call up to the big league.
The Ottawa Senators have an interesting future along the blueline, with Thomson joining the likes of Erik Brannstrom, Jacob Bernard-Docker and Christian Wolanin as some of the young players that could make up the core of their defensive group for many years to come.
Having Thomson continue to develop in Finland is a logical decision, allowing him to focus on improving his game, proving himself even more against other professionals, with a number of other NHL prospects expected to follow suit.
According to Ilves, the loan is until further notice, which leaves open the opportunity for him to be brought over to North America when training camps open, where he may have an advantage over his fellow Senators teammates due to having already played a few months of competitive professional hockey before then.