Main menu


Logan Thompson took the unlikely path to NHL starter

When the Vegas Golden Knights handed over Marc-Andre Fleury to the Chicago Blackhawks virtually free of charge in 2021, it signaled the beginning of a new era.

Fleury has been the team’s number one goalkeeper since day one, even after adding Robin Lehner in 2020. Statistically, just two years ago he was a trophy finalist at Vezina, which would be a big step up from his run. And with his month to go before the start of the 2022-23 preseason, Golden his Knights announced that Lehner was out before the start of the season due to hip surgery.

It was a complete disaster, especially since the team’s tight cap situation prevented them from going out and making deals. .

They eventually acquired Addin Hill from San Jose, but early on Logan Thompson emerged into the top spot. And there are clear signs from his early play that he could truly be his No. 1 in the NHL.

Advertising – Continue Reading Below

His route to Vegas is a bit of an odd one. He was drafted for four years in the WHL before being undrafted and eventually took his talents to Brock University, where Brock is a Canadian varsity college with a focus on giving opportunities to CHL and CJHL graduates. College league, he plays for U Sports. Occasionally NHLers come from there, but that’s pretty rare.

Thompson was great in his block, winning the league’s Top Goalkeeper and Rookie of the Year awards. Thompson turned professional and played several games for Binghamton (AHL) and Adirondacks (ECHL). He turned professional in his 2019-20 season and made a name for himself with the South Carolina Stingrays as one of his top goalkeepers in the ECHL.

Remember, it’s only 2022. In 2020, he had just finished his first full ECHL season. Thompson was promoted to the Henderson Golden Knights in the team’s first AHL season. Thompson continued his reign of terror and earned his top goalkeeping award in the league after posting an AHL-leading .943 save percentage. The March 10, 2021 game against Minnesota also saw a short NHL game, stopping both shots in the span of eight minutes and heading to the relief.

Despite his incredible AHL campaign, he eventually lost the Vegas backup role to Laurent Brossois. Thompson eventually made his first start on January 4 against Nashville and earned his first victory over San Jose over a month later. Thompson would return to the AHL for a two-game stint, but Logan Thompson’s show was in full effect once Lehner was placed on the disabled list on March 13.

Advertising – Continue Reading Below

The Golden Knights were on the verge of missing the playoffs with a month left in the regular season. They faced countless divisional rivalries in a game they couldn’t afford to lose and needed near perfection from the goalkeeping tandem of Thompson and Brosois, soon after Thompson made him a regular with a 9-4-3 run. Closing out his season he emerged as the No. 1 man.

The Golden Knights failed to make the playoffs, but it wasn’t because of Thompson’s lack of effort. He rarely spent his off nights and quickly became one of Vegas’ top his players. So when Lehner’s injury was confirmed, all eyes were on Thompson. And with Hill, the pair got the job done early on.

Throwing back a bit, Thompson’s first NHL start made him the first U-Sports graduate since George Manelk (University of Manitoba) started for the New York Islanders on October 28, 1990. Rob Dopson (Laurier) was the final goalkeeper. Before that, check out the action after Pittsburgh joined the Penguins in 1994.

Last year also saw the start of Zach Sorchenko’s NHL career. A two-year student at the University of Alberta, he appeared in his seven games last year with his Sharks in San Jose, defeating Los Angeles in his first win on March 10, 2022.

Most prominent Usports players go on to play in the ECHL or European pros, but when it comes to the NHL, like Thompson, it’s a big deal. Some of the league’s most notable alumni include Derek Ryan, Joel Ward, Steve Rutchin, Corey Cross, PJ Stock and Stu Grimson.

Thompson, now 25, is starting to find his game at just the right time. He holds his 5-for-5 save percentage of an impressive .941, and his goals are above average with a solid 1.93 saves. This isn’t a sample size to write off, but he was an integral part of Vegas’ campaign early on, continuing his rush from late-season play last year.

Advertising – Continue Reading Below

If Thompson can really stand out as Vegas’ No. 1, there’s no need for teams to go out and find expensive replacements. It will be an incredible boost for Golden and his Knights team as they try to stay competitive. Being a competitor right out of the gate meant making some tough sacrifices. So it’s left in place where they’re forced to use an inexperienced pair of backups to fill the role left by Lehner. If so, they would have immolated someone else in the trade to meet that need.

Thompson has a 12-6-3 record in just 23 NHL games. It’s too early to tell what long-term impact he will have, but his path to the NHL is unusual, and stories like him are rare.

Who knows if the Golden Knights have a firm belief in Thompson. But low risk, high reward is written all over this gamble. Talk about fitting.


Think you know sports? PointsBet Canada is now live in Ontario!

Recent work by Stephen Ellis