Buffalo Sabres forward Tage Thompson had a career-best season last year. His 38 goals and 30 assists for 68 points in 78 games was, by leaps and bounds, the most productive of his young career.
Now, the Sabres and GM Kevyn Adams have given Thompson a major vote of confidence, signing him to a seven-year extension worth $50 million. His cap hit with the new contract will be $7,142,857. The new deal begins in the 2023-24 season, as Thompson finishes out his current three-year deal with an AAV of $1.4 million.
Obviously, the extension is a significant jump for the Sabres and Thompson. Looking at it on paper right now, it’s a lot of money and a major raise for a young player after one very strong season, following a number of not-so-strong seasons. His AAV is more than quintupling!
Signing Thompson to an extension now, at this pay rate, could end up being an incredibly wise decision for Adams and the team. Thompson may have an even better season than last, and attract even more eyes from around the NHL. That would increase his value and potentially mean he could get an even bigger contract signing in Buffalo when he was set to become a restricted free agent next summer. In that sense, although this seems like a lot of money, it could end up being a steal.
There’s also the consideration of the NHL’s salary cap, which is expected to jump significantly in the coming years. That would mean that down the road, Thompson’s cap hit as a percentage of the team’s overall cap would be even lower - and even more of a steal.
It’s a big contract, and a big example of the faith that Adams and head coach Don Granato have in Thompson and their bets on him and his place in this team’s future. He certainly seems to be happy in Buffalo and as a part of the much-discussed ‘culture,’ and those are intangible assets in a locker room that boost morale and can help lead this team in the coming years.
Yes, there’s a chance this deal could end up a sour one, and maybe years from now, we’ll look back on this as a big regret. But maybe, just maybe, the Sabres have a gem of a player in Tage Thompson, and we’ve only just seen the beginning of his potential, making this contract extension a deal worth raving over.