When a team’s loaded up front like the Tampa Bay Lightning are, it’s really no surprise that some guys get lost in the mix.
Such is the case with Nate Thompson. While teammates Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis consistently make headlines, Thompson has quietly proven to be a valuable asset.
This Lightning squad lacks grit and energy, especially up front. They’re also looking for players willing to block shots defensively, thus giving their goaltenders a chance to make the saves many expect. Another thing they need are guys unafraid to crash, or create havoc, in front of the opponents net.
Thompson brings stability to both of those areas. He’s very physical, but usually not in a dirty way. To prove this, March 2013′s suspension for a borderline check to the head of New Jersey’s Matt D’ Agostini was the first of his career.
The energy level shown is top notch as well. When the Lightning are struggling to get fired up, it’s a pretty good bet Thompson’s line will be sent out.
He’s also a true warrior. That’s evidenced in lots of ways, none more notable than his bloody face, a result of his visor shattering following a slapshot from Washington Capitals‘ defenseman Mike Green.
Offensively, Thompson will crash the net with reckless abandon. His statistics (seven goals, eight assists) are a testament to this fact.
Signed to a four-year contract extension this past March, Thompson is a valuable piece of this team. He’s a gritty veteran that knows the meaning of winning at all costs, something this Lightning club lacks. As the Lightning attempt to recover from this terribly disappointing season and make a legitimate playoff push, Thompson will be key, even if he does it minus all the fanfare.