BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Tage Thompson spent time on the bottom lines a season ago. This year, he became the team’s leading scorer and a guy head coach Don Granato trusted to go out against every team’s best as his top-line center. Granato sparked that turnaround during a preseason conversation with Thompson.

“We both felt I was going to be a good player in the league and his biggest thing was ‘alright, it’s got to happen now’ and that was something that I took to heart,” Thompson said. “…he gave me a lot of opportunity and a lot of ice time and it was up to me to take advantage of that and so I’m very thankful for that opportunity.”

Thompson took full advantage of his opportunity. He finished the year with 38 goals, more than twice the amount he scored the previous four years combined. Now he wants to see if he can set the bar higher next season.

“I think that just gives me a lot of confidence moving forward for next season to see what can I do next year?” Thompson said. “Can I beat that? Can I go even higher? I think that gives you that internal hunger and desire to do more.”

One way he said he can improve is in his face-offs. The Sabres were last in the league in face-off win percentage, and he wants to find more success inside the circle.

“Starting with the puck is a big advantage and that’ll be a big help if I can get better at draws,” Thompson said. “It’s going to take work and I’m willing to put in the work.”

Thompson established himself as one of the key pieces of the Sabres rebuild, and he wants to be part of the turnaround of the franchise.

“I think this is a place I want to be for a long time and I want to be a guy that helps this team win and make playoffs and win a Stanley Cup and obviously those are all just words and you’ve got to put that into action,” Thompson said.

Now he just hopes to improve on the numbers from this past year and make an even bigger impact next season.