New Sabres forward Tage Thompson felt ‘pigeonholed’ by Blues

The Buffalo Sabres traded Ryan O’Reilly to the St. Louis Blues for forwards Tage Thompson, Patrik Berglund and Vladimir Sobotka, a 1st-round pick in 2019, and a 2nd-round pick in 2021.

Players aren’t always pleased when they get traded—especially when they’re sent from a perennial playoff contender to the worst team in the NHL.

That wasn’t the case with Tage Thompson, though, after the 20-year-old forward was traded to the Buffalo Sabres as part of the package that sent Ryan O’Reilly to the St. Louis Blues.

“We feel like this is a great fit for me and it’s going to be exactly what I’ve been looking for as far as an opportunity to go in and play a lot and produce and help a team win,” Thompson told reporters on a conference call Monday. “The organization thinks the same thing, so it’s nice to be on the same page and be given an opportunity.”

Thompson had a frustrating rookie campaign with the Blues, registering just three goals and six assists in 41 games, while averaging a mere 11:55 in ice-time per game.

The 26th-overall pick from the 2016 NHL Draft even suggested he wasn’t being properly utilized by the Blues

“In St. Louis, they rely on their veteran guys, so I was pigeonholed in a sense where I didn’t get to play a lot or get to play the game I like to play, so I’m excited to come to a new team with some young players where I can just go out there, have fun and make some mistakes and help the team win,” Thompson said. “I think I play better when I’m relied on a little bit more. I really feel like I thrive under pressure, so I’m excited to be the guy that they look to in terms of producing and helping the team succeed.”

“Great shot, great size, good reach on the ice, has played NHL games, had the opportunity to win a world juniors gold medal,” Sabres general manager Jason Botterill said Sunday. “We think he can step into our lineup and grow with our young centremen. Also has a bit of a shooter’s mentality, which we like.”

Thompson, a 6-foot-5 University of Connecticut alumnus, joins a Sabres team that boasts a slew youthful talent, including top-10 picks Jack Eichel, Casey Mittelstadt, Alexander Nylander, Sam Reinhart, Rasmus Ristolainen and 2018 first-overall pick Rasmus Dahlin.

“Based on our talks [with Botterill] I think they are excited to have me and I’m excited to be a part of it,” Thompson added. “They really have big plans for me to be a big part of the team and play a lot, have a lot of opportunities to be successful and put up points and help the team win in that way. So yeah, I’m really excited and hopefully, I can find a spot in the top six and produce.”

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