Lassi on the move?

Some cold water has been tossed on what was otherwise a positive day for the Kelowna Rockets at the Western Hockey League bantam draft, Thursday.

After securing the services of a pair of defencemen, a forward and goaltender in a series of moves at the draft designed to improve the club in advance of hosting the Memorial Cup next year, comes word star defenceman Lassi Thomson may return to his native Finland.

Finnish based scout Lassi Alanen tweeted Thursday Thomson would forgo a second season with the Rockets, and instead play for his hometown team in Finland.

From the draft in Red Deer, Rockets president and GM Bruce Hamilton said the team is aware of the statements made by Alanen.

“We were somewhat surprised, however Lassi has always been under contract to Ilves, as they had to release him to play for us this past season," said Hamilton in a statement.

"We look forward to the NHL draft this upcoming June. We are hopeful that whichever NHL team drafts him, and his club team Ilves, decides that playing for the Rockets is in his best interest."

It's not unusual for European players to come to the CHL for a season, then return home to play pro before making the jump to the NHL.

Thomson led all rookie defencemen in scoring last season with 17 goals and 24 assists in 63 games.

He was named Rockets rookie of the year, and was runner-up in voting for WHL rookie of the year.

If Thomson doesn't return, that will leave the Rockets without any European players on the roster. They released Libor Zabransky midway through last season.

The Rockets will get a chance to add to their European pool during the import draft in early July.

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