Tage Thompson skipped his final two years at Connecticut to turn pro this spring.
Now, he’s hoping that experience will propel him to the next level — a spot with the St. Louis Blues.
“It was exactly what I needed and exactly what I was hoping for, a stepping stone,” Thompson told the Post-Dispatch of his 16 regular season and 10 playoff games with AHL Chicago. “Had I not made that jump at the end of the season, I wouldn’t have known probably what it takes.
“Ultimately the goal is to make St. Louis next season, so now that I’ve got the experience of playing in Chicago I’m more prepared for training camp.”
Thompson, 19, opted to go pro after a stellar campaign. He racked up 32 points in 36 games to lead UConn in scoring, and captured gold with Team USA at the World Juniors. Thompson had five points in seven games, registering an assist in the gold medal win over Canada.
At 6-foot-5 and 201 pounds, Thompson has good NHL size, and pedigree to boot. He’s the son of former Kings, Jets and Coyotes blueliner Brent Thompson, who’s currently serving as head coach of the Isles’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport.
That’s all part of the reason why the Blues took Thompson 26th overall in 2016. They ma very well have a spot for him next season.
Three forwards — Scottie Upshall, Nail Yakupov and Magnus Paajarvi — are currently without contracts, and it remains to be seen if they’ll be brought back. Upshall’s a veteran UFA and has suggested he’d like to return. Yakupov and Paajarvi are RFAs, and their statuses are unclear.
Yakupov did say he enjoyed his time in St. Louis, despite the fact he was a part-time player and routinely made a healthy scratch.