After missing the Ducks’ first-round series against the Winnipeg Jets, Nate Thompson suited up for each of Anaheim’s next 12 games, including seven in the third round against the Chicago Blackhawks. While it was known that he was playing hurt, the extent of his injury wasn’t known until he surgery was performed on his shoulder.
Thompson’s surgery, which he underwent Thursday, revealed he had two torn labrums in his left shoulder. The injury is to such an extent that come the beginning of next season, Thompson will likely miss at least the first month of the upcoming 2015-16 campaign.
Something to keep in mind when trying to grasp how Thompson could have possibly played through what was surely almost insurmountable pain is that he suffered the injury before the post-season, so it wasn’t as if he had time to heal before going into the playoffs. He dealt with the full brunt of the pain from an injury the Orange County Register’s Eric Stephens reported Thompson suffered in an April 11 game against the Arizona Coyotes.
Even with the injured shoulder, Thompson played some of the best hockey of his career in the post-season and may have established himself as the Ducks’ go-to bottom-six shutdown center. In the 12 games he was able to suit up for in the playoffs, he notched two goals and six points.
During the post-season run, coach Bruce Boudreau also relied upon Thompson heavily, as his deployment meant he logged nearly 15:30 per game. The only other time Thompson saw so many minutes was in 2010-11, when he skated an average of 15:37 with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
While losing Thompson for the first month or two of the upcoming season won’t be a blow as serious as, say, losing Ryan Getzlaf or Corey Perry, losing a depth center will create somewhat of a ripple effect through the lineup. At present, Thompson is one of only four natural centers on the Ducks roster, so either picking up a depth center on a cheap, two-way deal or shifting a winger to play down the middle will be a necessity.
Luckily for Thompson, though, he’s not missing time in the final year of his contract. His deal with Anaheim runs through to the end of the 2016-17 season, so playing for a new contract shouldn’t be a concern for the 30-year-old center.