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2016 Draft Prospect Profile: Tage Thompson could be the Panthers pick

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This tall right wing stormed the national stage as a freshman at UConn last season. The Cats would love nothing more than to see him fall into their lap.

Please.....come to Florida
Please.....come to Florida
Matt Dewkett

Tage Thompson

  • Position: C/RW
  • Current team: University of Connecticut (NCAA Hockey East)
  • Date of Birth: October 30, 1997
  • Birthplace: Oyster Bay, New York
  • Height: 6'5"
  • Weight:: 185 lbs
  • Shoots: Right

CAREER STATISTICS

SEASON TEAM LEAGUE GP G A TP PIM +/- POST GP G A TP PIM +/-
2012-13 Long Island Royals 16UA AYHL 16UA 14 12 13 25 19 |
2013-14 P.A.L. Junior Islanders 16U  USPHL 16U 16 17 14 31 8 |
2014-15 USNTDP Juniors USHL 25 7 7 14 20 10 |
U.S. National U18 Team USDP 64 12 14 26 32 |
USA U18 WJC-18 7 0 1 1 2 1 |
2015-16 Univ. of Connecticut NCAA 36 14 18 32 12 -14 |
TOURNAMENT STATISTICS
2012-13 Elite Hockey Group OHL Cup 3 0 0 0 0 |
2014-15 Team Red USA-S17 5 4 3 7 - |


http://www.eliteprospects.com/

There is no doubting the hockey I.Q. of Tage Thompson. As the son of former NHL defensemen and current Bridgeport Sound Tigers coach Brent Thompson, he has been very well educated. One of his finest decisions was to attend my alma mater- the University of Connecticut at Storrs. Before we say anything else though, here is why you will salivate about this prospect: Thompson led the NCAA last season (as a freshman) with 13 power-play goals- 3 more than his closest competition. Did someone say power play help?

In the final prospect rankings, Thompson landed at #20 in the NHL Central Scouting's rankings (for North American skaters), 25th in Hockeyprospect.com's rankings, 22nd by ISS Hockey, and 20th by McKeens Hockey rankings. The Panthers will have to be somewhat lucky to see Thompson fall into their hands at 26 or 27 at the draft.

Lets go back to that power play. UConn coach Mike Cavanaugh ran a PP similar to Washington's, and put Thompson in the Alex Ovechkin position. Coach Cavanaugh had this to say about Tage:

Tage didn't miss often. If he gets the puck in space and can one-time it, he can bury it. He also had some goals crashing the net with his big body.

He has also played on the international level, and found success, with some other prospects you may have heard of:

Prior to playing at Connecticut, Thompson won gold with the United States at the 2015 IIHF U-18 World Championship in Switzerland, playing with fellow 2016 NHL Draft prospects Auston Matthews and Matthew Tkachuk. Thompson also played for Team Plante in the 2015 CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game in Buffalo, N.Y., on Sept. 24.

More from the NHL Central Scouting report (as if you needed it - I had you at "power play"):

"He's a pro player," NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr said. "For him to go into that program and get the ice time and production he's getting, he's getting bigger and stronger and his skating has picked up. He upgraded his skating even though he didn't need to, so he's one of these guys who can get in, protect the puck, get it to the net and he's hard to check. "As a freshman, to go there and get that ice time, and be given the responsibility that he has, that's what is impressive."

Some of the Panthers flaws were exposed by the New York Islanders in the first round playoff loss this spring: poor power play production, and (contrary to what Tampa did at times to the Islanders) poor net front production. It is noteworthy that Thompson produces on the power play, and at 5-on-5 going to the front of the net down low. Part of his success is due to good footwork:

Thompson has great feet for a big guy. His footwork shows, especially when he's working in down low and winding up for a huge one-timer on the left side. "I try to play a power forward game, be strong on the puck down low and limit my turnovers in the neutral zone," said Thompson

But wait, there's more. This kid can kill penalties also:

Down the stretch, Cavanaugh utilized Thompson as a defenseman on the penalty kill. His reach and good stick were seen as benefits as the Huskies looked to clear the net front and keep pucks to the perimeter while down a man.

A big kid with good skating ability, who excels on the power play, can play defense on the PK, and likes to work hard and play in front of the net.....and we get the son of a guy affiliated with the New York Islanders organization? Do I really need to ask the next part.......

Does he fit in Florida?

Most mock drafts have Thompson being drafted somewhere in the late first or early second round, but with no pick in the second round and a need for physical wingers who can score throughout the system, he is a player to watch out for as he may not even last to when the Panthers pick at 23. Consider this scouting report:

There’s no question that Thompson will have a shot at becoming a strong, talented top-six forward. While he has the ability to take face-offs with consistency, he’s better fit at higher levels as a power winger who can add a physical presence along the boards. If he can mature physically and grow into his frame, he should make a solid first or second line winger at the NHL level.

Most of the Panthers prospect depth at wing is on the left side. Lawson Crouse is a left wing, as are Quinton Howden, Juho Lammikko, Kyle Rau,  and Connor Brickley. Jayce Hawryluk shoots right handed, as does Rocco Grimaldi, but the Cats are thin at right wing.Thompson is nothing short of the ideal pick for the Panthers at the end of the first round.