Nate Thompson drawn to Senators by wanting to play for Boucher again


Nate Thompson, celebrates after scoring past Nashville Predators. (Chris Carlson/AP)

OTTAWA — Nate Thompson was more than happy to give up California sunshine for Canadian winters because he believes the Ottawa Senators are ready to win.

The Senators signed Thompson, a former centre with the Anaheim Ducks, to a two-year, $3.3 million deal on the opening day of free agency.

"I don’t think this was a Cinderella team last year," said Thompson to media Friday morning. "I think this team is the real deal. They have a pretty good window to win games and hopefully do something even more special."

One of Thompson’s main attractions to join the Senators was head coach Guy Boucher.

The 32-year-old, who has also played for Boston, the Islanders and Tampa, was excited at the idea of reuniting with his former coach.

"Having that familiarity and playing for him in Tampa and knowing what he expects," said Thompson. "His structure, how he plays, his style of game and how a lot of the team plays definitely had a big part in it."

Thompson only suited up for 30 games last season due to an Achilles tendon injury and as such had just one goal and one assist. Thompson was in the lineup for the Ducks playoff run and had two goals and four assists in 17 games.

Ottawa was looking to add depth at centre and Thompson will be a solid addition being a strong faceoff guy who blocks shots and can play on the penalty kill.

"With my style of play it’s pretty straight forward and blue collar," said Thompson. "I want to be a leader on the team and just try and contribute with the little things whether it’s winning faceoffs, blocking shots or scoring some big goals every now and then."

A native of Anchorage, Alaska one would assume Thompson would be accustomed to cold winters, but after five seasons in Tampa and the last three in Anaheim he admits it may take some time to getting used to Canadian winters.

"People say you’re from Alaska you should get it, but at the same time I haven’t lived in Alaska in a while and I’ve played in warm places for the last eight seasons," Thompson said with a laugh. "It will be a change. It will be a bit of a culture shock for me, but you could say it’s hockey weather and I’m excited for that."

While leaving the California sunshine behind might be difficult, Thompson is looking forward to playing in a Canadian market for the first time in his career.

"I’m excited," he said. "That was the exciting part of signing here was not only coming to a good team, but to come to a Canadian market."

The Senators avoided arbitration with forward Ryan Dzingel as the two sides came to an agreement early Friday morning.

Dzingel agreed to a two-year deal with an average annual salary of $1.8 million. He will be paid $1.5 million in the first year and $2.1 million in the second.

The 25-year-old scored 14 goals and had 18 assists through 81 games last season and had two goals and one assist in 15 playoff games.

"We’re really happy," said Senators general manager Pierre Dorion from Toronto. "Ryan has shown through the course of his first really full complete season with us that he was an important member of our team. Getting him done on a two-year contract brings security."

The two sides were far apart, but Dorion said meeting face-to-face in Toronto was definitely beneficial in the negotiation process.

"They gave us a bit on the first year and I think we gave up a bit more on the second year, but at the end of two years I think we feel that we’re going to be ahead of the curve if Ryan can produce at the level that he’s capable and willing to produce at," Dorion said.

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