How much does it cost to trade for the coach’s son?
Luckily for the Bruins, Nate Thompson is only Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher’s “son” in a figurative sense – the Lightning bench boss loves the veteran center’s ability to do a little bit of everything, work hard and play physical.
While it obviously wouldn’t be the type of acquisition that would send a tingle up your leg, the Bruins should pursue Thompson, who Boston drafted in the sixth round in 2003, via trade with Tampa Bay.
With Chris Kelly on the shelf indefinitely and Boston desperate for a second experienced left-handed center to go with Gregory Campbell, Thompson would be a perfect fit. The 28-year-old is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and he carries just a $900,000 cap hit, according to CapGeek.com.
The Lightning are currently in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, five points back of the two teams tied for eighth place. It’s almost time for Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman to accept the reality of a second straight failure to qualify for the playoffs. Selling off UFAs would be wise, and he could at least get a little something out of the Bruins for Thompson. A mid-level draft pick or prospect would probably do (perhaps something conditional based on the Bruins re-signing Thompson).
So far this season, Thompson has posted 6-4-10 totals in 29 games along with just a minus-2 rating on a team that’s 22nd in the league in goals against per game. He’s won 50.7 percent of his draws.
Throughout his reign as Bruins GM, Peter Chiarelli has shied away from in-season blockbuster deals. Only the Tomas Kaberle deal broke the mold. Although the Bruins went on to win the Stanley Cup with Kaberle, it’s still debatable how much the defenseman actually contributed to the triumph.
Chiarelli tends to lean more toward deals that land supporting players leading up to the deadline. No one was dancing over the acquisitions of Kelly and Rich Peverley until the parade moved down Causeway Street. Dennis Seidenberg, Anton Khuodbin and even Mark Recchi were subtle deals Chiarelli made to fortify his team. You can’t argue with Chiarelli’s approach considering the success the team has had and the cap room he’s been able to use to lock up most of his key players for the future.
The Bruins have enough star power. A team built around Milan Lucic, Tyler Seguin, Patrice Bergeron, Zdeon Chara, Dennis Seidenberg and Tuukka Rask should be able to win with the right supporting cast. Any “sexy” player available via trade this season would require trading a big name or mortgaging the future. And there’s little time to forge new chemistry in the shortened season.
This is where Thompson comes in. The Bruins could also use help on the back end, but for now let’s focus on forward. With Kelly out and Krejci’s status up in the air, the Bruins are one more injured forward away from suiting up guys who aren’t ready for primetime.
Thompson is mostly a center, but he could shift out to wing. Anyone who’s sick of watching Jay Pandolfo fire passes into opponents’ shin pads and fall over during every battle on the wall would like to see Thompson skating the wing on either the third or fourth line when Kelly comes back (if he comes back before the season is through). Thompson is a solid penalty killer and a quality character player in the room.
Best of all, he could be re-signed at a slight raise and be a replacement for Kelly or Campbell if the Bruins decide one of those pivots should be shipped out to alleviate next year’s cap crunch.
When the Bruins lost Thompson on waivers to the New York Islanders in 2008, they regretted it because they knew they lost a player that embodied everything their team was about in terms of grit, determination and playing the game well fundamentally well. In the next couple weeks, Boston should move to bring Thompson back.