Potentially the hidden gem in the Ryan O’Reilly trade, Tage Thompson comes to Buffalo and joins the young core of talented forwards.
Buffalo Sabres general manager Jason Botterill brought in a huge haul with the Ryan O’Reilly trade in July with Vladimir Sobotka, Patrik Berglund, and Tage Thompson joining the Sabres in addition to a conditional first-round draft pick in 2019 and a second-round draft pick in 2021.
The player with the most potential in the trade is American born forward Tage Thompson. Thompson, the son of former NHLer Brent Thompson, played his college hockey at UCONN and was the first-round pick (26th overall) of the St. Louis Blues in the 2016 NHL draft. He was also a member of the 2017 IIHF World Junior Ice Championship United States squad that won gold at the tournament along with 2016 Sabres draft pick Casey Fitzgerald (currently unsigned and who will spend the upcoming season playing at Boston College).
So where does Tage Thompson fit in with the 2018-19 Buffalo Sabres?
Thompson brings size (6-5, 205 lbs.), a high hockey IQ, and a great hockey skill set with him. Due to injuries with the big club, Thompson spent last season, his first season in the NHL, bouncing back and forth between the Blues and their AHL affiliate the San Antonio Rampage. Thompson ended up playing 41 games with the Blues notching 3 goals and 6 assists while averaging 11:55 of ice time. After the trade, Thompson was optimistic about the move:
"“The more we sat and thought about it, we felt it’s a great fit for me,” Thompson said. ”It’s going to be exactly what I’ve been looking for as far as an opportunity to go in and play a lot and produce, and help the team win.”"
The biggest hole in the lineup for the Sabres is on the left wing. Tage Thompson, along with Evan Rodrigues, could be a possible fit. Thompson and Rodrigues are right handed shots and are not natural left wings but could fit nicely with potential second line center Casey Mittelstadt. New acquisition Vladimir Sobotka is a left handed shot but has spent most of his career at center and he is a bottom six forward at this point in his career. Justin Bailey and Nicholas Baptiste will also be battling for spots on the wing in training camp but the expectation is Thompson starts the season with the big club and not in Rochester.
Where do you see Tage Thompson fitting into the Sabres lineup to start the season?