It turns out that Nate Thompson won’t just be a rental player after all as the Canadiens announced on Thursday that he has signed a one-year, $1 million contract.
Montreal acquired the 34-year-old from Los Angeles back in February to try to solidify their fourth line. He did exactly that as he played in all but one game down the stretch (he sat out the final game with Ryan Poehling suiting up and we all know how that turned out). In 25 games, he had a goal and six assists but also won 55.1% of his faceoffs which gave Claude Julien someone beyond Phillip Danault that he could rely on for key draws. He also helped out a penalty kill that got better as the season went on.
The deal actually represents a notable drop in salary from Thompson’s previous contract as he earned $1.65 million in each of the last two seasons. However, given what his role is likely to be with the Habs (a fourth line centre at most), his new deal is closer to market value.
While the Habs ultimately missed the playoffs, the price they paid to get Thompson (a fourth-round pick while the Canadiens added a fifth-rounder along with him) was certainly reasonable nonetheless. The fact that they now have him for another year makes his original acquisition even that much better in value.
With Thompson and Christian Folin now signed, Montreal has a trio of remaining unrestricted free agents in defenceman Jordie Benn, winger Jordan Weal, and goalie Antti Niemi. Niemi has already been told that he won’t be re-signed while it remains to be seen if the other two will be back for next season.