Ramblings: Thompson’s Extension; Wild Forwards; Hill in Vegas; A Three-Way Deal & More (Aug 31)

Alexander MacLean

2022-08-31

After covering for Ian this weekend this is going to be the fourth time in eight days that I'm rambling. Not sure how Ian and Cliffy do multiple days every week. It's especially tough in the middle of August. Luckily though we have had a bit of news the last couple days though, most recent of which is the Tage Thompson extension.

Thompson is currently under contract for one more year at a $1.4 million cap hit, and after last year's breakout he's a huge bargain on that deal. However, he has been signed to a lucrative extension, and will be making $50 million from 2023 to 2030. That's a seven-year deal with a cap hit of $7.1 million and change.

The six-foot-seven centre will likely be lining up as the first-line pivot for the Sabres, and will be trying to prove that his 68 points in 2021-22 was no fluke. He hit his breakout threshold early, passing 200 games in the middle of last season, but as a larger player we would have anticipated his big jump to come later. This isn't me trying to say that he should have another big jump in two seasons, and moreso would be the opposite, that a big jump at this point might actually signal that there was some unsustainability to his production.

Thompson jumped from a 30-point-pace in 2020-21 to a 70-point-pace in 2021-22. He did so by adding four minutes of ice time per game (one and a half of which was on the power play), by upping his shot rate to over three per game, and by doubling his shooting percentage from a career around 7% to 15% last year. His seconard assist rate was a little high at 50%, and his on-ice shooting percentage was a slightly inflated 11.3%. Thompson's best quarter came when he put up 23 points in 20 games to finish off the season though, right after passing the 200-game threshold.

Overall, there may be a little regression from the percentages leveling out, though it could be covered or even built upon with a better team around him, and the possibility to continue to add more ice time. He only saw 57% of the team's available time on the power play last year, so that could certainly be a spot where he gets more opportunity this time around.

The extension may be a bit early, and a bit much, but $7 million is not a terrible bet with the cap due to rise very soon. Buffalo needs to retain their top talent, and Thompson putting up 70 points per season while ad