Sabres' Thompson looking to get better in development camp

The young winger is already getting stronger in the legs

Paul Hamilton
June 26, 2019 - 9:10 pm

Photo courtesy of Micheline Michaelina (@MiMiV4682)

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Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - Tage Thompson struggled mightily in his 65 games in Buffalo. He scored seven goals and five assists for 12 points, but when he finally went to Rochester, the big winger had eight goals and 11 points in 11 games. He said it clicked right away, “For me the biggest thing was just confidence, you go down there and get some playing time. Tails [Chris Taylor] put me in a bunch of key situations and once you get those touches and confidence, the puck will go in for you.”

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Thompson is part of the Sabres Development Camp this week in Harborcenter. He said as he tries to get better for this season, he tunes out the noise, “Just staying positive. It doesn’t matter what people say about you. I know within myself and my support group around me, they believe in me and I believe in myself. So whatever negative is said about me, I think just staying positive and confident about the whole process and trusting in myself.”

Thompson went down to Rochester and scored right away. Chris Taylor sat him down when he got there and Thompson listened. Taylor said, “I thought he played very well. I thought he went to the hard areas, I thought he did a really good job of getting over pucks and having more confidence.  

“I remember in his third or fourth game he made a not so good pass and it wound up in the back of the net and you could see his head came down, but we put him right back out there and you could see he was just happy he was going back out there.”

Thompson is under a lot of pressure because he is one of the pieces that came to Buffalo in the Ryan O’Reilly trade. With O’Reilly’s success, many fans aren’t giving Thompson a chance to develop. He said he’s quite aware of the whole thing, “Ryan O’Reilly is an unbelievable player, so it’s not a surprise that he’s having unbelievable success with St. Louis, so I expected that, but with myself, I can only control what I can control, so I don’t know if there’s a lot of talk about me not performing, but I just try to focus on what I can do to get better.

“It’s a process, it’s not a race, I want to be a long-term NHL player for the Sabres for a long time and development is a slow process and I’m willing to work and do whatever the coaches need me to do to get there.”

It was just last year that Thompson played 41 games with the Blues. He said, “It’s bittersweet. Obviously it sucks, you want to win The Cup and you don’t want to see anyone else win it, especially your old team, but at the same time, I’m happy with a lot of the guys I played with especially guys that have been there for ever like Petro and all the vets there and it’s nice to see them win one.”

Thompson must get quite a bit stronger if he’s going to step up to the next level in the NHL. He said that process is already underway, “I’ve been doing a lot of leg, lower half strength, a lot of stability, things that are going to translate on the ice like being strong in the corners, using my body, cutting to the net and being able to take pucks against bigger guys.”

Lawrence Pilut is in Buffalo and he hopes to start skating in three weeks or so as he recovers from shoulder surgery. He said he doesn’t know if he’ll be ready for the start of the season.

The team is back on the ice Thursday morning at 10:15.

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