BUFFALO – Through 13 games this season, Sabres winger Tage Thompson has made nine appearances, sitting out the other four as a healthy scratch.
While Thompson, 20, possesses notable talent – look at the nifty preseason goal he scored after toe-dragging – he hasn’t done much so far with the Sabres, registering just one assist.
Sabres coach Phil Housley said Thompson will also sit out Saturday afternoon’s home tilt against the Ottawa Senators.
So wouldn’t Thompson, the 26th overall pick by the St. Louis Blues in 2016, benefit from a stint with the Rochester Americans?
“We continue to develop his game, whether it’s after practice or video, that’s one way to develop,” Housley said this afternoon inside KeyBank Center. “I understand playing is the most important, he’s going to get an opportunity … at some point in the near future.”
Housley wants the 6-foot-6 Thompson to start getting to the net regularly.
“He should own that lane going to the net,” Housley said. “It’s not only you get in the offensive zone and there’s some cycling and there’s different people getting around the net. But when it’s your chance or your opportunity to get to the net as a low forward, you got to find a way to spin off people, you got to have a direct line to the net.
“I think Tage is really good at that. He’s a big body that can make it tough on the goaltender.”
Thompson practiced today as a defenseman beside Remi Elie, another winger who will likely be scratched Saturday.
Winger Evan Rodrigues, a healthy scratch the last three games, will likely return against the Senators. Rodrigues practiced today at left wing beside center Vladimir Sobotka and Kyle Okposo.
Rodrigues hasn’t played since the birth of his son Sunday.
“I thought he was playing really good hockey,” Housley said. “Obviously, he has the birth of his child and give him some time to regroup. But I think when he’s at his best, he’s skating and he’s making plays.
“He’s got a big responsibility. He was playing both power play and penalty killing. He’s got to be good in the faceoff circle, which he has been. It gives us another right-hand shot. … He’s got all the intangibles of just being hard to play against.”
Housley said defenseman Zach Bogosian sat out today’s practice for maintenance. Bogosian, who has battled injuries and recently made his season debut, has averaged about 20 minutes over the last three games.
“We’re just going to have to monitor him and just the schedule dictates that, we got a lot of games in a short period,” Housley said. “I’m just making sure we’re cautious. This could be an ongoing thing, but he’ll be ready to go tomorrow.”