Flyers: Getting to Know Nate Thompson

The Philadelphia Flyers made three trades on what was a rather busy deadline day.

The first of those deals involved the Flyers sending a 2021 fifth-round pick to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for forward Nate Thompson. Thompson has played for a few various teams during his professional hockey career, and I want to introduce him to those who might not know his hockey history.

Junior Career and Getting Drafted

Thompson was born in Anchorage, Alaska, which is home to a few other notable hockey players like former New Jersey Devil Scott Gomez and current Columbus Blue Jackets forward Brandon Dubinsky. Gomez was a role model to Thompson growing up.

Nate Thompson, Montreal Canadiens
Nate Thompson, Montreal Canadiens (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Western Hockey League (WHL) came calling, and Thompson found himself as a member of the Seattle Thunderbirds. He played a significant role as a solid depth forward for them, complementing the team alongside other future NHL talents like Brooks Laich, Matthew Spiller, and Aaron Gagnon. During his time with the team, Thompson helped the Thunderbirds make the postseason three times – the organization managed to go on a deep playoff run each time.

Overall, Thompson was making a name for himself, and NHL teams were taking notice. The regular season stats from Thompson’s time as a Thunderbird are below:

  • 2001-02: 13 goals and 26 assists in 69 games
  • 2002-03: 10 goals and 24 assists in 61 games
  • 2003-04: 13 goals and 23 assists in 65 games
  • 2004-05: 19 goals and 15 assists in 58 games
Thompson played in front of Seattle Thunderbird fans from the 2001-02 season until 2004-05. (Shoot the Breeze Photography)

Thompson was invited to the NHL Draft in 2003, where he was chosen by the Boston Bruins in the sixth round. Not many sixth-round picks make it to the big stage, but Thompson was determined that he would become one of the success stories, and with a lot of hard work, he finally was able to get his shot. Thompson was given his first NHL chance with the Bruins during the 2006-07 season. He played in four games for the squad that season but was held off of the scoresheet.

His Journey Through the NHL

Thompson has spent his entire professional career moving around throughout the league. The four games he played for the Bruins were the only ones in which he ever suited up for the organization. He spent most of his time in the AHL with the Providence Bruins, before eventually being claimed off waivers by the New York Islanders back in 2008.

Related: Pennsylvania Hockey – A Long, Proud History

He put up a few points during his time on Long Island, before eventually finding his way onto the Tampa Bay Lightning. He had his best statistical season of his career during his days in Tampa, racking up 10 goals and 15 assists in 79 games during the 2010-11 season. He also tallied a goal and three assists that same year in the playoffs, helping the Lightning make their way to the Eastern Conference Final, where they lost to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Bruins.

Nate Thompson
Thompson during his stint with the Anaheim Ducks (James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports)

Other teams that Thompson has played for are the Anaheim Ducks, the Ottawa Senators, the Los Angeles Kings, and the Montreal Canadiens. To add the teams up, Philadelphia will be the eighth franchise he will suit up for. During his entire NHL tenure, he has played in over 700 games in the regular season, notching a total of 62 goals and 93 assists. In the postseason, he has played in 62 games, where he scored seven goals and 11 assists. He participated in playoff games with the Lightning, Ducks, and Kings.

While the numbers do not show it, Thompson brings a lot to the table.

Opinion on the Trade

I like this move for the Flyers, and others agree with this sentiment. The team wanted to add to their bottom-six group and got someone who is able to make a difference when he is in the lineup.

He does not put up a lot of points, but he is a veteran who has been through quite a few NHL clubs and has gained a lot of knowledge and wisdom as a result. He is another potential mentor for the younger players, and the little things he does on the ice help power the third and fourth lines he will be on for Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault. Thompson can be a solid complementary piece as he has done before. He can help run the bottom-six, while other guys like Travis Konecny, Sean Couturier, and captain Claude Giroux can be the faces of the top lines.

The Flyers wanted forward depth on the bottom lines, and I think they hit the nail on the head with this trade.