2022 Player Report Card: Tage Thompson

This was the breakout year for the forward that we have all been waiting for

Our 2022 Buffalo Sabres player report cards continue today with a look at forward Tage Thompson.

Total Season Stats: 78 GP | 38 G | 30 A | 68 PTS

Age: 24

Contract Status: Signed through to 2022-23 at $1.4 million, RFA after that

We waited a long time for this, not even sure if he would ever come good, and now that it’s happened we’re wondering whether it was a one-off or if Tage Thompson truly is a franchise top six center. What we do know is that his points haul of 68 pts is the best value you’ll ever get pretty damn good for a player signed for just $1.4 million per year.

At the end of last season we were contemplating that he would probably become a throw-in for a bigger trade, or possibly a target for expansion team Seattle Kraken. Thompson shrugged all that speculation aside to show that he had truly arrived in the NHL as a top forward, and had the points tally to match in a Sabres side that often struggled to score, especially earlier in the season.

The 24 year old seemed to grow as the campaign went on, and the infectious happy hockey that Don Granato’s squad seemed to play brought out the best in him. Somewhere former Sabres GM Jason Botterill is sitting back with his feet back, sipping his cup of tea and softly whispering under his breath to himself “I was right”, as the prospect finally made his mark after being selected in the first round of the 2016 draft by the St Louis Blues and added to the package that saw Ryan O’Reilly shipped out of WNY.

Little was expected from Thompson going into the season based on previous seasons, but Granato’s decision to move him to center late in the previous season seemed to have kickstarted his career, at least on the scoring side.

His faceoff technique still needs some work as reflected by the 40.3% win rate — it actually falls to a measly 32.8% on penalty kills. This might be an area where his lanky 6’7” frame actually works against him, but otherwise he uses that size very well winning battles along the boards and in creating space for himself to shoot. Speaking of shots, his shooting percentage jumped up from 8.3% to 15% this season, so we could likely expect a regression next season.

The addition of Jeff Skinner to his line appears to have benefited both players, and with sharpshooter Victor Olofsson on the other flank, the Sabres do have a top line that can produce more often than not.

The forward came very close to breaking the 40 goal mark, and eclipsed Jack Eichel’s highest goal tally in his time with the Sabres, throwing the bolt on the firmly slammed door on the superstar as he left Buffalo.

Next season will be the big test for Thompson, not only because it’s his contract year before he becomes an RFA, but at this point he will have the target on his back as one of the key players for the Sabres. Granato continues to use him in all situations, flanking Rasmus Dahlin on the top power play unit and even on the second penalty kill unit.

Season Grade: A

Grade Tage Thompson on his 2021-22 season.

A - excelled above expectation719
B - did better than expectation27
C - met expectation3
D - did worse than expectation2
F - did much worse than expectation1