Wiebe’s World: After long road to NHL, Logan Thompson proving doubters wrong

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Logan Thompson. (Jeffrey T. Barnes/AP)

WINNIPEG — Logan Thompson didn’t bother trying to block out the noise, nor did he let it impede him from achieving his ultimate goal.

When your path to the NHL is as circuitous as his was, hearing numerous commentators speculate about how he might handle taking over the No. 1 job from Robin Lehner (who is out for the season with an injury) with the Vegas Golden Knights simply provided some additional fire for the journey.

“That’s kind of been my whole career,” Thompson said during a trip to Winnipeg last week. “When I was in the (ECHL), I was just on an ECHL deal and when I signed here in Vegas, everyone thought I was just a depth guy. No one really thought I was going to even be an American Hockey League goalie, so I’m used to people not thinking much of me.

“That fuelled me, of course. You always use that stuff to motivate you and you like to prove people wrong. For me, I was just excited to be part of the team and get that opening roster spot.”

Not only did Thompson nail down that roster spot, but he’s been between the pipes for 22 of 33 games this season, sharing the crease with Adin Hill on a Golden Knights squad that currently sits on top of both the Pacific Division and Western Conference with a record of 22-10-1.

“Everyone wrote us off at the start of the year,” said Thompson. “I don’t think we got a lot of respect and we proved to everyone that we’re a contender this year.”

The Calgary product was a workhorse for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League during his final junior season, appearing in 55 games and putting together a 29-22-2 record with two shutouts, a .908 save percentage and 3.41 goals-against average.

When the options at the professional level were not coming to fruition, Thompson made a quick pivot, though he wasn’t quite ready to focus solely on life after hockey just yet.

The next stop for him was the Brock University Badgers program in USports and that’s where his numbers improved dramatically and things resonated while playing for Marty Williamson, who is now the head coach and GM of the Barrie Colts in the Ontario Hockey League.

“I had my scholarship money (available) and I wanted a change of scenery. I had never been to Ontario,” said Thompson. “Brock University had a good hockey program the year before and as a goalie, my biggest thing was that I wanted to play and wanted to go somewhere where I was going to play. You see a lot of guys go to other schools, but they’re a third stringer and they have to wait.

“Brock lost their starting guy, they had a good team and wanted me to go there and play games. Marty Williamson has a lot of connections, and he was able to help me out.”

An eight-game cameo appearance with the Adirondack Thunder of the ECHL followed his time with Brock University and ultimately led to an AHL deal with the Hershey Bears.

That strong season with the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL did enough to garner an entry-level contract with the Golden Knights, whose GM Kelly McCrimmon was familiar with Thompson from his time with the Wheat Kings.

“There was a time for a bit when I gave up on the dream,” said Thompson. “When I went to university, I thought the NHL was never possible. Once I got my AHL contract and signed the NHL deal with Vegas, I thought I could do it. I had come this far, why not come a little bit farther. It is a marathon, not a sprint.”

That cliche resonates with Thompson for good reason.

He’s logged some long, arduous miles just to get to this point and in many ways, it feels like he’s just getting started.

“I know you’ve got to put in the work in every league and I think I’ve done that,” said Thompson. “In USports, the ECHL and the AHL, I put in the work in all of those leagues and I’m ready to put the work in here.”

Thompson, 25, has done precisely what’s been asked of him by Golden Knights head coach Bruce Cassidy this season, building on the first extended taste of NHL action he had last season when he was promoted from the Henderson Silver Knights during the stretch run and ended up playing in 19 games for a team that was ravaged by injuries and just missed out on the playoffs.

“He’s a pretty competitive guy, very athletic. He has a good mentality for a goaltender,” said Cassidy. “He’s not carrying previous games with him, he’s going back in there with the mindset of ‘I’ve got to play well tonight and give the team a chance to win.’ He hasn’t been too high or low so far. That’s always the challenge for young goalies. When things are going well, they typically can enjoy that but when they’re not, how do you bounce back and get back to being a steady, solid guy?”

That competitive nature is something both Chandler Stephenson and Jonathan Marchessault mentioned immediately when asked what stands out about Thompson.

It’s a valuable trait and one that should continue to serve Thompson well over the course of this season and beyond.

“He’s a gamer,” said Stephenson. “Right when he came in, he never missed a step. Last year, you saw how good he can be. He’s taken (the opportunity) and run with it. He’s shown a lot of confidence and growth in his game.”

Thompson believes there is more growth on the horizon.

“I feel I’ve come a long way,” said Thompson. “I’ve got a pretty fiery personality and I think it leads into the game. It’s not always going to be the cleanest, but I’m always going to give my hardest for the team.”


A quick glance at the traditional stats (three goals, six points in 29 games this season) suggests that Nashville Predators winger Tanner Jeannot could be the latest player to be dealing with a sophomore slump.

Jeannot garnered plenty of well-deserved attention last season when he essentially willed his way into the Calder Trophy conversation by playing a style of game that made teammates and opponents alike take notice.

That ability to combine rugged, physical play with scoring touch while also being willing to drop the gloves with regularity had many observers wondering what Jeannot might have in mind for an encore.

While the offensive numbers have dropped compared to the 24 goals and 41 points he delivered in 81 games last season, Predators head coach John Hynes reiterated last week that Jeannot is still finding a way to have his presence felt on a regular basis.

“You know what, he’s still playing the same game. He’s done a nice job. He’s one of our top-four penalty killers now, so he’s grown in that role, where he didn’t kill as much last year,” said Hynes. “He’s good on the forecheck. He’s strong on pucks. He’s had some looks. The puck hasn’t gone in as easily for him as it did last year. But he’s still a guy that helps impact the game. He plays with speed. He’s got a good, physical presence. As I said, he’s a factor on the penalty kill. And he’s hard to play against.

“Getting to the net a little bit more I think will help him. Last year he had a lot of tips, rebound style of goals. He’s had a lot of looks like that. They didn’t bounce for him, yet, this year. But I think just staying with his identity as a player, then things will go in the right direction.”

Jeannot has 43 shots on goal this season, but his shooting percentage is considerably lower so far, checking in at 7.0 per cent compared to 19.4 per cent last season.


• It was great to see Golden Knights defenceman Alex Pietrangelo return to the lineup on Saturday against the New York Islanders after missing three weeks dealing with a serious illness for his four-year-old daughter Evelyn morphed into a brain lesion that impacted her motor skills. Pietrangelo told reporters in Las Vegas that Evelyn’s health has improved dramatically, which allowed him to return to the Golden Knights sooner than he anticipated. That willingness to share some of the details of a very private manner could help someone in a similar circumstance down the road and is a not-so-subtle reminder that sometimes things are bigger than hockey.

• How well have things been going for the Boston Bruins this season? Well, in addition to becoming the first team to hit 50 points on Saturday and extending their home-ice point streak to 18 games (16-0-2), Jeremy Swayman nearly delivered a goalie goal in the latter stages of their 4-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Swayman’s shot travelled the length of the ice and appeared to be on line before veering slightly to the left and sailing just wide enough to graze the side of the net.

• Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron was honoured prior to the game for his offensive contributions. Not only does the 45th overall pick in the 2003 NHL Draft provide Selke-level play without the puck, but he’s accumulated 1,004 points in 1,246 regular season games with the Bruins. That’s an impressive total that occasionally gets overlooked because of his defensive capabilities.

• After the Anaheim Ducks strung together consecutive road wins this week over the Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers, they moved out of the basement of the NHL, ceding the 32nd spot in winning percentage to the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks are 7-18-4, leaving them with 18 points and a .310 winning percentage to leave them as the current leaders in the Connor Bedard sweepstakes. The Ducks (.328), Columbus Blue Jackets (.367), San Jose Sharks (.406) and Arizona Coyotes (.414) round out the bottom five.

• The Philadelphia Flyers are the next team in that race (.422) and head coach John Tortorella made headlines when he made centre and leading scorer Kevin Hayes a healthy scratch on Saturday against the New York Rangers. “I can’t keep looking by things because we’re worried about scoring,” Tortorella told reporters. “I’ve got to look at the big picture of what this team is going to be, what the standard is, of how we have to play. So, that far outweighs losing some offence in a particular game.”

• Offence has been tough to come by for the Flyers, who are tied for 29th in the NHL in goals per game (2.41). Hayes (nine goals, 29 points in 31 games) and Travis Konecny (12 goals, 26 points) are the only two players on the roster who have eclipsed the 20-point mark this season.

• The Rangers extended their winning streak to six games with a 6-3 victory over the Flyers and currently occupy the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

• Tampa Bay Lightning centre Brayden Point is finding his groove, notching 10 goals and 13 points during his past 11 games.

Winnipeg Jets defenceman Josh Morrissey continues to dazzle this season, picking up an assist in Saturday’s 5-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks to record his 200th NHL point. Morrissey leads all NHL D-men in assists with 29 and is tops on the Jets in scoring with 34 points (in 30 games), which is just three points shy of his career high, set last season.

Washington Capitals goalie Charlie Lindgren is going through one of the best stretches in his NHL career. With Darcy Kuemper still sidelined with a concussion, Lindgren has made seven consecutive starts and won six of those, allowing two or fewer goals in six of them to help keep his team in the middle of the Eastern Conference wild card race. There’s a reason Lindgren attracted plenty of interest in the free agent goalie market during the off-season and that three-year deal worth $3.3 million ($1.1 million AAV) is looking like a smart investment for general manager Brian MacLellan.

• Capitals blue-liner Erik Gustafsson became the second D-man to record a hat trick this season on Saturday, joining Erik Karlsson of the San Jose Sharks. 

If you’ve got a topic you’d like to see explored in this space, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at wiebesworld9@gmail.com.

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