The St. Louis Blues have locked up their most recent first-round pick, signing Tage Thompson to a three-year, entry-level contract today. Thompson had been playing at the University of Connecticut, but will report to the Chicago Wolves of the AHL for the remainder of the season on an amateur contract. His entry-level deal will not kick in until the 2017-18 season.
Thompson is the son of former NHL defenseman and current Bridgeport Sound Tigers head coach Brent Thompson. Playing mostly center ice for the Huskies, the younger Thompson is a dominant power forward that uses his size (6’5″, 200-lbs) to remove defenders from the puck and attack the net with powerful strides. Although he is still a work in progress in the defensive end, many believe he will turn into an excellent two-way player that can slot in anywhere in the top-nine.
Playing mostly with Kieffer Bellows, the New York Islanders prospect who was selected seven spots ahead of him in the draft, Thompson put on a show of force at the World Juniors for Team USA and was a big part of their run for gold. His hands, skill, and quickness don’t lag very far behind his size because as he explained to Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch back in January, he spent most of his developmental years as an undersized player before hitting a growth spurt a few years ago.
Using that size and skill, he’ll now head to his first taste of professional hockey as the Wolves try to clinch first place in the Central Division. With 32 points in 34 games for Connecticut, he definitely won’t lack any confidence in his game as he adapts to the AHL level. It will be interesting to see if the Wolves will use him at center or on the powerplay, both places they’ve lacked since Ivan Barbashev has stayed up with the Blues.