Tage Thompson’s development has the Sabres dreaming of the playoffs

Something amazing is happening on the ice in Buffalo.

The two-year explosion from Buffalo Sabres forward Tage Thompson

Thompson notched a hat trick on Tuesday night in a 4-3 overtime win against the Washington Capitals. It was his third hat trick of the season, and his first game with three or more goals since his five-goal outburst against the Columbus Blue Jackets back on December 7th.

Thompson’s three goals moved him to 30 on the young season, almost matching the 38 goals he netted a year ago, his previous career high. Over the past two seasons, Thompson’s production has rewarded a Sabres organization that acquired him in a trade back in 2018. That move sent Ryan O’Reilly to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for three players and two draft picks.

According to Blues general manager Doug Armstrong, the Sabres were adamant that Thompson was part of the deal. While Thompson was a first-round pick by St. Louis in the 2016 NHL Draft, he had yet to produce at a level that would command that kind of faith. Thompson scored 3 goals and notched 6 assists in 41 games with the Blues during his first NHL season.

Not exactly huge numbers.

In the short term, it looked like the Blues got the better end of the deal. O’Reilly — who had fallen out of favor in Buffalo — helped the Blues to a Stanley Cup in 2019 and he won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP.

Thompson, meanwhile, scored 7 goals in 65 games during the 2018-2019 season, and missed almost the entire 2019-2020 campaign after a shoulder injury. 메이저사이트

But prior to the 2021 season, the Sabres saw both Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart leave town, which prompted a move to center for Thompson.

Cue the breakout 2021 campaign, as Thompson scored 38 goals, adding 30 assists, over his 78 games for Buffalo a year ago.

His reward? A seven-year, $50 million contract extension from the Sabres after that one year of production. Yet more faith from an organization that has seemingly believed in him for years. Thompson himself called the contract a “huge leap of faith” from the team. That extension does not even kick in until next year, making Thompson one of the league’s best bargains this season. His 30 goals have him second in the NHL, behind Edmonton’s Connor McDavid, and he is tied for third in points this season with 55.

Thompson also ranks second in goals created, and second in goals created per game.

Watching Thompson, the first thing that stands out is his size. Thompson is 6’6”, and that length and wingspan shows up every night. But the more you watch him, the more you come to appreciate his hands, and his feel for the game.

All of those traits were on display Tuesday night against the Capitals.

Take his second goal from the win over Washington. Thompson trails the play, but takes advantage of a centering pass, controlling the puck before snapping off a shot that gets by Capitals goalie Darcy Kuemper:

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