Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) – The Buffalo Sabres signed center Tage Thompson to a seven-year, $50 million contract extension this past Tuesday.
Thompson, who will travel from Arizona to Buffalo on Saturday, joined WGR Sports Radio 550 and "Sabres Live" on Friday with Brian Duff and Martin Biron. The 24-year-old, of course, is very happy to be remaining in Buffalo for years to come.
“It was a rewarding feeling," said Thompson of his new contract. "All the work that not many people have gotten to see go on behind the scenes the past four or five years, and it’s a big leap of faith by ownership and staff. Now it's just my job to continue to progress as a player and as a person, and earn that contract.”
This contract extension took most of the summer to get done. Thompson says the Sabres approached his agent in May, and was confident that it would get done.
“We knew early on that it was going to be done before the season,” he said.
It made sense for Thompson to sign this extension, because he and his family have no desire to leave Western New York.
"I think Buffalo is a place that I want to be, and I know my wife loves it here," Thompson said.
If you follow the Sabres, you know what a close group this team is. Thompson says he’s heard from many happy teammates after signing his extension, and he knows it’s also going to cost him some money.
“'Mitzy' [Casey Mittelstadt] called me right away, and I think he’s all fired up that he doesn’t have to pay for a dinner on the road now," Thompson said with a smile. "But our group is something special, and it’s one of the biggest reasons why I wanted to be in Buffalo.
“The way we’re trending now - I know it sounds like it’s all talk and I’m kind of disappointed that people on the outside don’t get to see all that goes on in the locker room and just the time we spend with each other away from the rink - it really is a tight-knit group.”
Thompson scored 30 more goals last year than he had ever scored in a season at the NHL level before.
“I don’t know if there was one specific play or moment, but I think gradually as the season wore on, I just gained more and more confidence," Thompson said of his 2021-22 season. "I’ve always loved the position of center. I played it growing up, so getting back to the middle of the ice is just something where I feel naturally comfortable.”
The Sabres honored iconic broadcaster Rick Jeanneret on April 1 by raising a banner to the rafters.
After that night saw a sold out arena for the first time all season, it was a night that Thompson will never forget.
“That was a pretty special night for everybody," Thompson recalled from that night. "It was 'RJ Night', a sold out barn, and just an unbelievable atmosphere. I scored the 30th there, which was something I had never done before, and the guys were pumped for me. So it was just a cool night all-around.”
Now that Thompson has established himself and has scored 38 goals in a season in this league, he will be facing the toughest matchups from the other teams going forward. It’s something he looks forward to.
“I love it. I love the competition, and I like having pressure on me," Thompson said. "I feel like I play better when I have pressure and the game’s on the line. I want to be the guy. I want to help the team win.”
Thompson says he splits the offseason between Arizona and Connecticut, but he’s looking forward to getting back to Buffalo this weekend.