HAZELWOOD, Mo. - As the Blues’ first round draft pick, Tage Thompson is having to do some extra work during the team’s prospect camp, which wraps up Friday afternoon at the Ice Zone at St. Louis Outlet Mall.
There are a few more cameras following him around, more interviews to do, Snapchat accounts to take over and even Twitter chats to participate in.
For Thompson, all of that stuff is pretty new.
The hockey stuff, though - that stuff he pretty much excels at all the time.
As a freshman at UConn last season, Thompson started on the fourth line and quickly found a spot on the first. He finished second on the team in points with 32 (14 goals, 18 assists) and led all NCAA players in power-play goals with 13.
At 6-foot-5, the 26th overall pick is showing the early potential the Blues must have seen in him.
In addition to Snapchat takeovers and Twitter chats, we had Thompson sit down with us for a one-on-one interview. Here is our Q&A:
BLUES: One of the biggest days of your life happened two weeks ago in Buffalo. Tell us what it was like to be selected in the first round of the NHL Draft.
THOMPSON: It was pretty awesome sitting there up in the stands. I was a little nervous at times, but when I heard my name called by the Blues, it was a very special feeling. All the hard work and dedication started to pay off, but that was just another step in my career. I still have a lot of work to do.
BLUES: You met with the Blues several times before the draft. Did you get a good feeling that they might pick you?
THOMPSON: Yeah. I was really comfortable with the staff and organization. I kind of had a feeling that once they traded up a couple of spots, I had a feeling that might be it. Hearing my name called was awesome.
BLUES: You mention that trade - the team made a deal with the Washington Capitals to move up a few picks to get you. That’s a good sign of the potential they see, knowing they didn’t want you to get away to another team.
THOMPSON: It’s an honor. It shows they have a lot of belief and trust in me to move up and pick me. I just have to prove them right and put in the work and get better over the next couple years.
BLUES: A lot of hockey fans in St. Louis learned the name Tage Thompson a few weeks ago. What can you tell them about your game? What kind of player are you?
THOMPSON: I’d say I’m a big, skilled power forward, someone who has a knack for making plays and scoring goals. I like to compare myself to someone like Corey Perry. I think we play a similar game.
BLUES: Long before the draft, you had a personal connection to the Blues organization. Tell us about that.
THOMPSON: Growing up, my dad coached with the Peoria Rivermen for four years, so I grew up around hockey my whole life and lived in Peoria. I got familiar with the St. Louis Blues organization for a short period of time there, and I got to hear great things about St. Louis, so I’m really excited for the future.
BLUES: What’s it like having a dad that is a hockey coach and an ex-NHL player? That’s got to be good for your development.
THOMPSON: Having a dad that’s a hockey coach and an ex-player is obviously a great advantage. He’s been through the game and knows what it takes to get there. Any wisdom he has for me, I’m all ears. I just have to apply it and put in the work. I think he’s proud of me no matter what, but I think he wants to see me live out my dream, which is playing in the NHL. He’s willing to help me get there if I’m willing to listen.
BLUES: You finished second in scoring at UConn and led the NCAA in power-play goals as a freshman. How do you evaluate your first year of college hockey?
THOMPSON: I think my freshman year at UConn was a great learning experience for me, getting adjusted to the college pace, playing against older guys. Now that I have that one year of experience under my belt, it should be a fun learning experience next year.
BLUES: You won a gold medal with the United States at the U-18 World Championships on a team that featured No. 1 overall pick Auston Matthews and St. Louis native Matthew Tkachuk. Are those guys as good as advertised?
THOMPSON: They certainly are. Playing with them at the Worlds was pretty special, and winning Gold with them is something I just can’t really describe.
BLUES: How is prospect camp going for you so far?
THOMPSON: It’s been awesome, a lot of fun. I’ve met a lot of new guys, made some friendships and I’m having a blast out on the ice learning. A lot of these guys have been to multiple camps and here you have resources such as the staff and organization here. I’m just trying to ask questions and learn as much as possible this week.
BLUES: Have you thought about what it might feel like to put on a Blues jersey for your first NHL game?
THOMPSON: I haven’t stopped thinking about it since the draft. It’s been my dream since I was a little kid, and hopefully I’m able to wear that Blue Note for a long time.