Size, speed and ability to score.
If you ask a hockey person about rookie Tage Thompson, that is what they will tell you. He has all the intangibles that made him a first round draft pick of the St. Louis Blues back in 2016.
Since acquiring him this past offseason in the Ryan O’Reilly deal, Thompson has had large expectations placed upon him.
A preseason performance that included the aforementioned size, speed and ability to score shot his stock up through the roof.
Once the puck dropped on opening night in Buffalo, Tage Thompson’s upward momentum came to a screeching halt.
The game might be moving just a little too fast for Thompson, that one is evident.
Buffalo Hockey Beat’s Bill Hoppe passed along this quote a few days ago regarding Thompson.
“We need to get Tage some ice,” Housley told assembled media. “Obviously, he’s a young player. I think he learned a lot by taking a step back. It’s always good that a player can watch the game from a different perspective.”
Thompson has now missed four of Buffalo’s last six games.
The last time Thompson was on the ice, he played a team-low 9:34 and recorded two shots.
In nine games this season, Thompson has tallied only one assist, 12 shots and has been averaging 11:28 time on ice per game.
Looking even deeper, Thompson’s possession numbers are downright terrifying.
His Corsi For sits at 38.6%, which is second-worst on the team – only Remi Elie has a worse percentage. This can give you a good idea that when Thompson is on the ice, he is actively getting his doors blown in.
Thompson also has started in the defensive zone 70% of the time. This would lend some credence to the thought that Phil Housley trusts him defensively but that has not translated to much success at all.
For a Buffalo Sabres squad that has struggled to score outside of Skinner / Eichel / Pominville, something has to give.
The time might be now to pull the trigger and send Tage Thompson to the Rochester Americans.
Time against lesser talent never hurts development.
For those wondering, Thompson tallied 20 points (9 goals, 11 assists) in 46 career AHL games while with the St. Louis Blues organization.
Looking at the current state of the Rochester Americans also gives us a look at a handful of players who might be ready to make the jump, in the event a move is made.
Rookie forward Victor Olofsson leads the AHL with 15 points (5 goals, 10 assists) in 10 games.
Fan-favorite Alexander Nylander has 9 points (4 goals, 5 assists) in 10 games.
Forward Danny O’Regan has 7 points (5 goals, 2 assists) in 10 games.
Top forward prospect C.J. Smith even has 7 points (4 goals, 3 assists) in 10 games.
The depth scoring is there but the organization needs to be comfortable and confident in their decision, whether they decide to stick with players like Thompson or swap him out for another body from Rochester.
We most certainly know that Jason Botterill and company value undisturbed development down in the AHL but as stated before – something has to give. The Sabres are struggling scoring goals on three of their four lines and Tage Thompson might as well be the face of that struggle.