Fort Collins native, RoughRiders, Thunderbirds alum Thompson taken by Blackhawks in 2022 NHL Draft
Aidan Thompson waited for a call that never came.
The Fort Collins native anticipated his phone would buzz at some point during the second day of the 2022 NHL Draft. He had fielded plenty of interest in the past year, talking to over half the teams in the league.
But as Thompson, watching the draft with his dad, saw the Chicago Blackhawks, a team he garnered strong interest from, submit their final pick of the third round, he expected to have to play the waiting game a little longer with his phone still sitting silent.
“You never know what’s going to happen on draft day,” Thompson said. “I wasn’t 100% on anything.”
To Thompson’s surprise, he saw his name flash across the TV. Chicago selected him 90th overall.
“I thought maybe they might call me. The draft’s delayed on TV, so I thought I’d know before I was picked,” Thompson said. “Chicago was one of the teams that had a bit more interest. I thought, ‘Well they’re not picking me because I would have gotten a call now.’ ” That was a cool moment.
Thompson, 20, is the latest Colorado native to be drafted to the NHL after climbing the youth and junior ranks. He grew up playing for the Rocky Mountain RoughRiders and Colorado Thunderbirds, earning a commitment to Denver University, before finishing high school in Massachusetts.
After graduating, Thompson hoped to be drafted the first year he was eligible, but ultimately had to prove his mettle in the USHL.
“I was disappointed I didn’t get picked my first two years (of eligibility),” Thompson said. “Everyone has different paths, but I’m happy for where I went and excited for the future.”
Playing for the Lincoln Stars the past two seasons, Thompson tallied 34 goals and 85 assists in 112 games played. Last season, the 5-foot-11, left-handed center posted a club record 58 assists, leading the Stars with 82 points in 57 games, which helped Lincoln (35-20-3-4) post the club’s first winning season in five years.
Thompson turned heads at the Blackhawks development camp in July before he departed for the Team USA International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior tryouts in Detroit. He suffered a knee injury on the final day of tryouts, ending his bid to play in the tournament this month. Thompson said he’s hopeful he’ll be recovered in four weeks.
Despite the bump in the road, Thompson is excited about coming home for the upcoming season with the Pioneers, coming off an NCAA Division I national championship, before he begins his professional career.
“I don’t think the standards could be higher where else do you want to go than the best program in the country,” Thompson said, adding that the hockey talent in the Centennial State continues to grow.
“Colorado is up-and-coming for hockey players. DU won the national championship, the Avs won a Stanley Cup. More and more fans are getting into hockey here. It’s a great place to play, great place to live — we’re going to see more kids from Colorado go further in the game.”
Photo/Brandon Anderson/Lincoln Stars
(August 8, 2022)