The Montreal Canadiens acquired veteran forward Nate Thompson ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline this season to add bottom-six depth for a playoff run that never materialized. They gave up little to acquire him, swapping a fourth-round pick in this year’s draft for Thompson and a fifth-rounder from the Los Angeles Kings. Yet, the Habs have decided to make the most of that minor investment. The team has announced a one-year contract extension with Thompson. It is a one-way deal worth $1MM.
The extension represents a small pay cut for Thompson, who had a $1.65MM AAV on his previous two-year deal, one that was originally signed with the Ottawa Senators but was served with three different teams. Yet, it is a fair downgrade for the 34-year-old forward. While still a dependable two-way player and an asset at the face-off dot, Thompson point totals fell last year and he hasn’t cracked 20 points since 2010-11. Yet, in just 25 games with Montreal, Thompson scored more points than he accumulated with the Kings in more than twice the games earlier in the season. If that level of production continues – a 23-point pace – this deal will be a great bargain for the Canadiens.
With Thompson signed and the Habs already confirming that backup goaltender Antti Niemi won’t be returning, the team has very few unrestricted free agents to worry about. Only forward Jordan Weal, a fellow deadline addition, and defenseman Jordie Benn are set to hit the open market. Like Thompson, Weal played far better in Montreal than in his previous locales during the season, while Benn had a career year in 2018-19. Both are strong candidates to return to the team.