Thompson’s thoughts on family as wildfires rage in California
Former Duck makes first return to his off-season home, Bruce Garrioch writes.
The fires in the Los Angeles area hit a little too close to home for Nate Thompson.
As the Ottawa Senators winger returned to his off-season home for the first time since he signed as an unrestricted free agent July 1, Thompson learned Wednesday his fiancee Sydney’s grandmother was evacuated from her home and her parents were standing by to see if they too had to leave.
“Hopefully it’s OK. Thoughts and prayers out to them,” Thompson said Wednesday afternoon. “It kind of happened quick. (Tuesday) it was all right in Ventura and Thousand Oaks, then all of a sudden it took a turn over to where they’re at. Hopefully it can be contained and everything will be OK.”
A RETURN FOR THOMPSON
Signed as a free agent from the Anaheim Ducks, Thompson still returns here in the summer and has ties to the area. He was looking forward to seeing familiar faces at the Honda Center Wednesday night.
“I loved playing here,” Thompson said. “We had some really good teams. It was a great place to live and a great group of guys. I can’t say enough great things about the organization and how they treated me.
“But now I’m on the other side, and now I want to beat them.”
Thompson has made his impact felt with the Senators.
“He’s something we didn’t have,” head coach said Guy Boucher. “He has brought exactly what we wanted and what we needed. I know him — he won’t play against his buddies, he’ll play hard because that’s the kind of guy he is. He loves to compete every night.
“There’s not a game — even the last game (in Winnipeg) when we didn’t have a lot of guys competing, he went out and banged some guys to try to create something. We definitely need that.”
PROSPECTS ON THE RADAR
There’s a chance the Senators may be able to get a look at couple of their top prospects at the world junior championships later this month in Buffalo, N.Y.
London Knights winger Alex Formenton, 18, a second-round pick in 2017, and centre Drake Batherson of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles were among the invitees to Canada’s world junior camp, which starts next Monday in St. Catharines.
Formenton had an impressive camp with the Senators, made the opening night roster and suited up for one game before being sent back to junior, while Batherson was a fourth-round pick last June, but they’re in for a tough battle with 18 forwards competing for roughly 14 spots in the tournament.
“That shows a lot about the work of our scouts because both of those guys weren’t first-round picks, which gives a lot of credit to their work,” Boucher said. “That changes organizations, it really does.
“Guys that aren’t first-rounders that come up and are recognized as being top players in their countries and probably will accelerate our process of growing (down the road), that makes a gigantic difference. You don’t expect those second-, third- and fourth-rounders to make a team that quickly. Those guys are going to be on the bubble soon enough, and that’s a tribute to the work of our scouts.”
Batherson, who had a cracked finger, just spent a week skating with the club’s AHL affiliate in Belleville while recovering from the injury and is expected to suit up this weekend with Cape Breton before heading to camp.
Senators prospect Logan Brown, who was returned to the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires at the end of the October, also has a good chance to play for Team U.S.A.
The club’s top selection in the 2016 draft was one of 28 players invited to take part in Team U.S.A.’s training camp. Brown, who suited up for four games with Ottawa after making the team in September, has 11 goals and 21 points in 13 games since being sent back to junior. The American camp starts Dec. 15 in Columbus, Ohio.
Forward Markus Nurmi, a sixth-round pick in 2016 who has four goals and eight points in 29 games with TPS Turku, will also compete for a spot on Finland’s roster.
“I’ve lived the (world juniors) and I’ve enjoyed all the benefits that come from that environment,” Boucher said. “It’s a pressure environment and it’s very different than playing for your own team. There’s such a big purpose to it and a pride associated with it.”
Centre Derick Brassard, who hadn’t scored in 17 games going into Wednesday’s visit to Anaheim, was trying to not let the slump get to him. “Every game I have some Grade A (opportunities), and when the chances aren’t there that’s when you worry,” Brassard said before facing the Ducks. “Every game I have chances to score and every chance you miss you feel like the net is getting a little smaller.”