After grinding through several seasons in the minor leagues, Ben Thomas finally got his chance during the 2020-21 season. The defenseman played in five games for the Tampa Bay Lightning, finally reaching the NHL for the first time. Despite finally making it to the top, Thomas’ 25th birthday passed in May, meaning he became a Group VI unrestricted free agent when the offseason hit.
Now, Thomas is set for a new challenge. The minor league veteran is heading to Sweden to join Leksands IF in the SHL, signing a one-year contract.
Originally selected in the fourth round in 2014, Thomas suited up more than 300 times for the Syracuse Crunch, getting to the Calder Cup Finals in 2017. He had nine points in 16 games this season for Syracuse but was unable to record an NHL point in his short stint with Tampa Bay. There’s no doubt that he’s still young enough to make a return to North America at some point in the future, but it remains to be seen whether he’ll ever get another crack in the NHL.
For now, he’ll be testing himself on a whole new level, but Leksands is also hoping to continue his development and take him even further in his career.