The Tampa Bay Lightning have put pen to paper with one of the top prospects in their system. Defenseman Jack Thompson has signed his three-year, entry-level contract, the team announced. No financial details have been disclosed, but the team did state that the deal does not begin until next season. Thompson got into one game with Tampa’s AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, playing on an amateur tryout to end his season.
Thompson, 19, is not your typical “top prospect”. A 2020 third-round pick, he probably wouldn’t be considered as such with any other team in the league. However, in Tampa’s pipeline, thin and aging, Thompson was a much-needed addition last year. A high-upside project, Thompson is a bit one-dimensional as a possession defenseman with a good shot but not much in the way of play-making or defensive ability. However, the Bolts can work with his natural ability and good size over the course of this first contract. He’s one of very few young prospects in the system with the capacity and time to grow into much more than what he is now.
Thompson was a point-per-game player in an 18-game stint in the Swedish minors this year, recording 9 goals, 9 assists, and an +9 rating for Surahammars IF. In that short time, he actually ended up finishing first among defenseman in goals and plus/minus. Last season, Thompson played for the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL, recording 32 points in 63 games; he could wind up back in Sudbury next season as well. Although he got a taste of the pros this yeat, another year of junior would not hurt for the raw prospect.
Thompson was a polarizing prospect in the 2020 NHL Draft, likely due to the fact that he has a narrow skill set but has mastered those skills. Some saw righty blue-liner as a potential early third-round pick while others saw him falling into the later rounds. The Lightning are clearly happy to have snagged him at No. 93 overall and with a constant need to affordable talent at the NHL level for the cap-strapped club, they will be happy to see Thompson continue to take steps forward and broaden his ability into a pro-ready game.