2019-20 Player Review: Nate Thompson played some hockey

The mid-season acquisition was here and on the ice in the bubble.

When the Philadelphia Flyers were in the middle of one of their best seasons in recent memory, they sought out to get a little more ready for the playoffs at the trade deadline last February. With their top forwards locked into their position and no real reason to trade future assets for a high-quality rental, they opted for the safer approach and acquired forward depth. One of those forwards was established center Nate Thompson from the Montreal Canadiens for nothing but a fifth-round pick.

He wasn’t here for long — in the rare autumn offseason Thompson signed a one-year deal with the Winnipeg Jets — but he certainly did play some minutes in the postseason, whether they were good or bad. This isn’t a post-trade analysis in any means, but to appease all the “just do something” calls from the streets below the Wells Fargo Center, this definitely is one of those moves. Giving up basically nothing in terms of trade value, for some depth rental piece during a significant stretch that just looks a smidge better on paper than letting a Lehigh Valley Phantom play on the fourth line during an important run.

Whether you disagree with the trade or not — and who is really up in arms about acquiring a depth rental for a late draft pick — Thompson was a part of this team last year, so let’s look at what he actually did here.

By The Numbers

Basic Stats

Games PlayedGoalsAssistsPointsPIMsShots on GoalShooting PercentageAverage Time on Ice

Since the global pandemic halted the season just seven regular season games into Thompson’s lovely visit to Philadelphia, I decided to include his postseason bubble numbers into his basic stats. It didn’t really change much. Added one point, a dozen or so penalty minutes, and actually increased his average time on ice. But here we are left wondering what exactly he did here.

It’s hard to criticize a player that has been going through teams like he’s a graduate student visiting the graves of different classical composers all throughout Europe. When Thompson was here, he was slotted into his depth position and acted the part. Laying down the hits — he was able to amass 37 through his 16 playoff appearances — and barely putting the puck towards the net.

5v5 Individual Stats

Goals/60Points/60Shot Attempts/60Expected Goals/60

Here we have a whole lot of nothing. Thompson doesn’t really do anything by himself, he’s more of a gear in the fourth line’s system that can sometimes be effective, if that’s possible. Looking at just his regular season numbers with the Flyers seems unfair to him though. He didn’t choose to be in Philadelphia and have a small sample size for us to prod at.

5v5 On-Ice Stats

Corsi For%Corsi For% Rel.Expected Goals For%Expected Goals For% Rel.Goals For %PDO

Okay, even when he’s on the ice it’s usually a bad sign. I’m not saying that a fourth-line center has to be the next Paul Gaustad, but just improve the team as a whole. There’s not a whole lot here but we’re exploring it.

Three Burning Questions

Did this player live up to expectations this season?

In a similar vein as I live my life, if you leave expectations low, then no one is disappointed. As soon as the Flyers acquired Thompson prior to the trade deadline, his fit within the team was probably given about a minute of thought and we moved on to thinking about the next Travis Konecny goal.

What do we expect from this player next season?

I’m sure the Winnipeg Jets are going to love Thompson in a depth role as they sink to the bottom of the all-Canadian division next season. He’s a fun player to have and somewhat entertaining when you’re watching the two fourth lines scrap it out. I expect him to score at least one goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

What would we like to see this player improve on?

At the age of 36, there’s not a whole lot of room to grow. Thompson will surely want more from his game and if this is his last year in the league, it will certainly be memorable. There will be fights, there will be tests, there will be vaccines — we’re all just waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel in Winnipeg.