Nate Thompson

Nate Thompson on Flyers: 'For years to come, they're going to be very, very good'

Nate Thompson on Flyers: 'For years to come, they're going to be very, very good'

Before arriving to the Flyers at the Feb. 24 trade deadline, Nate Thompson had played for seven teams over 13 years in the NHL.

Some pretty good teams, too. Thompson made the 2011 Eastern Conference Final with the Lightning, who had Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos. He went to the 2017 Western Conference Final with the Ducks and played 36 postseason games through three seasons for Anaheim. Overall, he has 62 playoff appearances on his résumé.

With the Flyers, Thompson played seven games before the NHL was forced to suspend the season because of the coronavirus outbreak. He joined the club when it was on a three-game winning streak and helped it stretch the run to nine straight victories before the Flyers lost to the Bruins in their final matchup ahead of the pause.

A 35-year-old veteran like Thompson made a seamless transition into the Flyers' locker room. It also took him only seven games to see that the Flyers were a contender starting to awake.

And not just built for this season.

"It's definitely an organization, not just this year, but I think for years to come, they're going to be very, very good," Thompson said as a guest on Sportsnet's latest 31 Thoughts: The Podcast with Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman published Wednesday. "They're definitely going to have a chance. It was a lot of fun, especially at this point in my career, to be a part of something like that. Unfortunately with what happened, we got paused, but hopefully we can get back to that, get back to playing and have a chance to win this year."

There's a good chance 2019-20 will be Thompson's only season in Philadelphia as he's set to become an unrestricted free agent during the offseason, so this shot means a lot for him. He knows if Flyers fans are feeling frustrated with the current run being put in jeopardy, they should at least take solace in the fact that the team looks pretty well constructed for the immediate future.

The club's defense is young, deepening and will have at least one more year of Matt Niskanen. The group of forwards has vets still experiencing some of their best years, Travis Konecny blossoming into an All-Star and prospects like Joel Farabee and Morgan Frost getting their feet wet. That's not to mention Nolan Patrick and Oskar Lindblom being out and still in the picture, of course, moving forward. And the Flyers have their 21-year-old franchise goalie just getting started.

"When you have a guy like Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier, these guys, they lead by example on and off the ice," Thompson said. "You can see their habits, you see the way Couturier plays, everyone kind of just follows his lead. And then you have some good young players and a goalie like Carter Hart, who I think the sky's the limit for him, kid's a stud."

Couple that with head coach Alain Vigneault, who has gone twice to the Stanley Cup Final, and Thompson believes there should be excitement in Philadelphia.

"Everyone always asked me when I got there, 'Oh, how's Philly?' I'm like, 'Well, it's great, we've won nine in a row, it's hard not to love it here,'" Thompson said. "It was a lot of fun to be a part of, they have a great group of guys in the locker room. I know you can say that for a lot of teams, but you can really tell how much the guys care and how much fun they have — and you can see it. When I got there, I think they won three, four in a row and almost didn't feel like they won that many in a row. It was kind of just come to the rink the next day, reset, have fun, work hard, go about your business and on to the next game and expect to win it."

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Flyers get good news on injury front with 2019-20 season suspended because of coronavirus outbreak

Flyers get good news on injury front with 2019-20 season suspended because of coronavirus outbreak

A potential silver lining to the Flyers' 2019-20 run being brought to a halt was the time off to get healthier.

On March 11, the Flyers were about to push forward without James van Riemsdyk (broken right index finger), Philippe Myers (fractured patella in right knee) and Nate Thompson (left knee sprain).

On March 12, the NHL season was suspended because of the coronavirus outbreak. 

As the Flyers have missed their final 13 games of the regular season and have gone a month without playing, they've gotten healthier. If the 2019-20 season does resume, they'll be in good position.

The Flyers on Friday announced that Myers and Thompson have been cleared to play, while van Riemsdyk is expected to be cleared within one to two weeks.

In other health matters, Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder) continues to work out daily but has not been cleared for contact and Samuel Morin (torn ACL) is expected to be cleared to play in time for the 2020-21 season.

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Another injury, multiple roster moves test that 'playoff feel' for Flyers

Another injury, multiple roster moves test that 'playoff feel' for Flyers

When the Feb. 24 trade deadline passed, general manager Chuck Fletcher mentioned the importance of adding depth because hockey happens.

Freak plays, bad bounces, bumps and bruises.

Hockey has happened for the Flyers in a span of 16 days since the deadline, when the team acquired forwards Derek Grant and Nate Thompson.

The two roster casualties for those additions are already back with the big club. Joel Farabee returned when James van Riemsdyk went down last week with a broken right index finger, while Connor Bunnaman was recalled Wednesday because of a left knee sprain for Thompson, who will miss a minimum of two weeks after suffering the injury during the first period of the Flyers' 2-0 loss Tuesday to the Bruins.

With Philippe Myers' right knee injury, Mark Friedman was also called up Wednesday to give the Flyers an extra defenseman.

Fletcher's deadline work is looking more and more important by the day (or injury).

"That’s exactly it," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said Wednesday after practice. "Since that time, we’ve lost a couple players. For me, this is next man up. Guys have got to play, have got to play well. Some guys are going to get opportunities to get a little more ice time, a little bigger role. That’s what they need to do."

Thompson was playing fourth-line center and killing penalties. Bunnaman has played very little shorthanded during his 21 games with the Flyers, so players like Grant, Scott Laughton, Michael Raffl and Tyler Pitlick will have to eat up more PK minutes. Claude Giroux, who has played only 1:36 minutes shorthanded through seven games since the deadline, could be asked to take back some PK responsibilities, especially with his strengths in the faceoff circle.

Shayne Gostisbehere is back on the power play, while Travis Sanheim will need to chip in further at shorthanded and 5-on-5.

Everyone has to adjust. The Flyers, who are 19-6-1 since Jan. 8 and 6-1-0 since the deadline, believe they can keep things rolling. They have no reason not to believe.

“Playoff feel has been around this locker room for over a month now," Kevin Hayes said. "I remember coming off the All-Star break, I think we were in the second wild card maybe, we might not have even been in the playoffs. We knew it was going to be time to strap in and figure it out and determine what type of team we were going to be. I think a lot of that has to do with our extra players. It’s competition every night where if you’re not playing the right way consistently, you’re going to be out of the lineup.

"I feel like we have guys in Lehigh, guys that are up here that don’t play as much that can come in, step in and play.

"We have a lot of confidence in this group, it’s a fun feeling, it’s a great feeling, it’s a feeling you don’t have every year. It’s something that we’re all looking forward to."

Here's a look at the Flyers' projected lineup leading into Thursday night's road game against the Lightning (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

Forwards

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Joel Farabee-Kevin Hayes-Travis Konecny
Scott Laughton-Derek Grant-Tyler Pitlick
Michael Raffl-Connor Bunnaman-Nicolas Aube-Kubel

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim-Justin Braun
Shayne Gostisbehere-Robert Hagg

Goalies

Brian Elliott
Carter Hart

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