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Sabres Grades: Thompson Delivers Off-The-Charts Production



Tage Thompson Buffalo Sabres grades

Tage Thompson broke the limits of our production score against the New Jersey Devils in our latest version of Sabres Grades. He wasn’t the highest-graded player overall, but when you can score four goals in a game you’re more than making up for your faults and giving your team an outstanding chance to win.

Must Read: Thompson Scores Four as Sabres Defeat Devils 5-2

10 of the 19 players on the ice for Buffalo recorded average grades or better, recovering well after a dismal first period.

If you missed the introduction to the grading system, we’re assigning letter grades to each Buffalo player based on game performance. The letter grades are assigned based on statistical computation, taking into account the following factors:

  • Production
  • Quality of offense
  • Quality of defense
  • Volume of offense
  • Volume of defense
  • Powerplay performance
  • Penalty kill performance
  • Penalties drawn and taken
  • Role
  • Minutes played
GradeLower LimitUpper Limit


Devon Levi

Grade: A

It’s a third straight “A” game for Devon Levi, who stopped 28 of 30 and was perfect through the last 49:29 minutes. The initial plan was rumored to be sending Levi back to Rochester after this weekend. With the level he’s playing at, it’s fair to wonder if the Sabres will want to keep him around a little longer to see if he can keep it up.

Fellow netminder Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has been the team’s MVP this season, but Levi’s play of late has given him a chance to unseat him. Either way, the Sabres have to be thrilled with how far their goaltending has come since the beginning of last season.

Owen Power

Grade: B+

Production: C-
Offense: B-
Defense: B-
Special Teams: C

Head coach Don Granato shuffled the top two pairs on defense heading into the game, and Owen Power was the biggest benefactor. Power, after moving with Rasmus Dahlin, saw a huge spike in Buffalo shot attempts when he was on the ice. The duo also did well in limiting quality scoring chances, helping steer the ship in the right direction over the last two periods.

Tage Thompson

Grade: B

Production: A+
Offense: C+
Defense: D+
Special Teams: N/A

You may wonder how Thompson only registered a “B”, after a spectacular output. “Opportunistic” is a word that comes to mind. His elite shot helped him outscore his expected goal total. There’s more to a player’s performance than production, though you can argue that production like Tage’s on Friday should weigh more heavily into these scores.

The truth in the underlying numbers is that the Sabres gave up more shot attempts and much higher shot quality when Thompson was on the ice. Per Evolving-Hockey, his on-ice expected goal percentage was 29.57%, not including empty-net situations.

That’s why a team pays players like Thompson, though. He can outscore problems and vault his team to victory with the simplest puck touches.


Jacob Bryson

Grade: D

Production: D+
Offense: D
Defense: C+
Special Teams: B+

The third pair struggled again for the Sabres, landing Jacob Bryson in the “duds” column for the fourth time in five games. Three “D’s” and an “F” were the four grades in those games, leaving a bit of a concern about where Bryson’s game is right now.

With the Sabres playing again Saturday on a back-to-back, it’s a prime opportunity to give him a mental and physical reset. Kale Clague is Buffalo’s extra defenseman and is a lefty, like Bryson, so it’s the obvious lineup swap should Granato choose to do something with the blueline.

Connor Clifton

Grade: D+

Production: C
Offense: D
Defense: C
Special Teams: C

Connor Clifton is the other half of the third pair that did not perform up to par. Clifton played an average defensive game but could not get anything going on the offensive end for his club.

Some blame may fall on the bottom-six forwards, who did not generate much offensively in their own right. It takes a cohesive five-man unit, and the Sabres are struggling to find that cohesiveness since Casey Mittelstadt’s departure.

Jeff Skinner

Grade: D+

Production: D+
Offense: D-
Defense: C+
Special Teams: N/A

Jeff Skinner was one of the team’s better forwards in a disappointing loss to the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday. On Friday, he was one of their worst.

He hasn’t regained his first half of the season form, where he was one of Buffalo’s most consistent producers. Instead, it’s a lot of up-and-down play.

He doesn’t appear to have the linemates he needs to support his game. Skinner isn’t great at creating offense with the puck on his stick, rather, he needs play-drivers to transition play into the offensive zone and feed him in areas behind and around the net.

His most common center, Peyton Krebs, is not that kind of player himself. His other linemates in the game, Jordan Greenway, Zach Benson, and Jack Quinn, are not that player at this juncture as well.

Devon LeviG88%A
Owen PowerD75%B+
Rasmus DahlinD69%B
Tage ThompsonF66%B
Alex TuchF57%B-
Jj PeterkaF56%B-
Jack QuinnF53%C+
Dylan CozensF49%C+
Zach BensonF45%C
Henri JokiharjuD40%C
Jordan GreenwayF35%C-
Tyson JostF35%C-
Peyton KrebsF34%C-
Bowen ByramD28%D+
Jeff SkinnerF27%D+
Victor OlofssonF27%D+
Zemgus GirgensonsF27%D+
Connor CliftonD25%D+
Jacob BrysonD22%D