If you followed Tage Thompson around the time he was drafted, there was some serious intrigue.
Here was this massive kid with a big smile that seemed to really turn things when it mattered. Big players can be typecast – he was 6-foot-5 and still kind of lanky at the time. He had the reach, but was he going to come in to fight? To poke pucks away? Big players aren’t typically electric goal-scorers.
Thankfully, we have the wonderful world of hindsight. And seven seasons after getting drafted in the first round by St. Louis, Thompson finds himself on the heels of Connor McDavid for the goal-scoring race, and could join elite company as a 60-goal scorer in the National Hockey League.
What in the world?
The now 6-foot-7, 218-pound monster has been virtually indestructible this season, recording 26 goals and 50 points in 32 games with a Buffalo Sabres team that’s going to need one heck of a second half to make the playoffs. And now, he’s just two goals behind McDavid for the scoring lead, beating out the likes of Leon Draisaitl, Jason Robertson, David Pastrnak and even Auston Matthews, who broke the 60-goal barrier in 2021-22.
This all feels out of nowhere. He had a major breakout season with 38 goals and 68 points last year, but he had just 35 points in his first 145 NHL games. So after catching everyone’s attention in 2021-22, the focus shifted to maintaining that and giving the Sabres the true scoring star they had missed for most of the decade.
But, looking back, there may have been some reason to believe that, once everything clicked, Thompson could become one of hockey’s most mystifying stars.