By Thomas Harrington
Keaton Thompson has played for the University of North Dakota for the last three seasons. After winning the NCAA Championship with UND this past year, Thompson signed an entry-level contract with the Ducks and joined San Diego for the end of their regular season but did not appear in any games for the Gulls.
Thompson was a junior at UND this past season, his final year of NCAA hockey. He became one of UND’s leaders on the blueline and jumped into the play more often than he did in his previous seasons at UND, and was still one of the more reliable players on UND’s defensive core. Overall, Thompson scored two goals and 17 points in 43 games last season, and his 43 games, 15 assists, and 17 points were all career highs for him. Thompson also had a career-high +21 rating. In fact, Thompson was a plus or even player in 35 of his 43 games, pretty good for a player more known for his shutdown ability than his goal scoring ability. Thompson also had a personal best four-game point streak in mid-January. He recorded two assists in four NCAA tournament games, helping UND win the NCAA Championship. After the conclusion of his junior season, he signed his entry-level contract with Anaheim and went to San Diego. Given the amount of depth on San Diego’s blueline at the end of last season, he wasn’t able to crack their lineup, but there’s little doubt that giving him a taste of what AHL hockey was like will help a lot this coming season.
A year ago, I said that I’d like to see Thompson increase his point totals, but that wasn’t a huge deal. More importantly, I wanted to see his defensive game continue to grow. Well, he certainly improved his offensive totals, and it’s safe to say that his defensive game grew as well, and it’s one of the primary reasons the Ducks decided to sign him to a professional contract instead of letting him play one more year of NCAA hockey. As a bonus, I said that it would be nice if he could help UND win the NCAA Championship, something the school hasn’t done since 2000. I wasn’t really expecting it to happen, but winning the NCAA Championship was a great way for Thompson to finish off his college hockey career.
This coming season, Thompson should see a good amount of action on San Diego’s blueline. He won’t score much, but I’d like to see him continue to play solid defensive hockey. He’ll probably be used on the second or third pairing as he adjusts to the professional game. He should also see some time on San Diego’s penalty kill unit, but I wouldn’t expect to see him much on the Gulls’ powerplay. Sometimes players take a while to adjust from college hockey to the AHL, but I’m hoping that ends up not being a huge issue for Thompson.
Thompson will never be known for his offensive contributions at any level of hockey, but he could turn into a solid fourth or fifth defensemen. Given that he will be an AHL rookie this season, and the amount of depth on defense in both Anaheim and San Diego, we shouldn’t see him in Anaheim this coming season. If Thompson does make it to the Ducks, it means he’s either vastly exceeding expectations, or the Ducks have run into some incredible injury issues on defense. For now, he should stay in San Diego and develop over the next couple of seasons. I wouldn’t expect to see him in Anaheim’s lineup for another two or three years.
Thompson is just starting his entry level deal and will be a restricted free agent in three years’ time. It’s impossible to know how he’ll develop during that time, but as long as he plays some solid hockey for San Diego and becomes a solid contributor for their defense, the Ducks will most likely extend him when his current contract expires.
The next prospect update will be on Grant Besse.
For more Prospect Profiles or Updates, draft info, and other prospect news visit: Meet The Prospects
Want to be an Editor or Writer? Join The Puck Network!
DucksNPucks is part of The Puck Network, which covers the entire NHL. There are openings to cover your favorite team(s) and earn school credits! If you are interested, then apply by filling out the form here: Join Our Team