Thompson re-signs with Devils for two years; Gauthier heads overseas
Tyce Thompson is officially back in the mix in the New Jersey Devils organization.
The Utica Comets’ parent club announced Tuesday afternoon that the NHL team has re-signed the 23-year-old forward, who was a restricted free agent, to a two-year contract extension.
According to the Devils, it is a two-way contract for the first season of the contract. Thompson will be paid $750,000 when he is in the NHL and $175,000 when he is in the AHL. In the second season, it becomes a one-way deal where Thompson will be paid $775,000 regardless of whether he is with the Devils or the Comets.
The signing was expected after the Devils extended a qualifying offer to Thompson earlier this offseason. The signing means the sides avoid arbitration this month.
Thompson is looking to rebound after missing much of last season after needing surgery to fix a torn labrum, the Devils said at the time.
Thompson has limited pro experience after joining the ranks in 2021 following three seasons at NCAA Division I Providence College.
Thompson was solid in 16 regular-season games with the Comets last season with 15 points. He also had two points during the Comets’ playoff series against Rochester last spring.
Thompson has played limited games, appearing in a total of 27 AHL games and nine NHL contests with New Jersey. He played two games with the Devils last November before his injury.
“This is going to be like a reset for Tyce,” New Jersey Devils Assistant General Manager and Comets’ General Manager Dan MacKinnon said in an interview with the Sentinel. “I expect him to be an impact player right from Day 1 with the style he plays. He’ll be 100% health-wise. We’re looking forward to that.”
Thompson was teammates at Providence with recent Devils free-agent signing, Jack Dugan. Thompson’s father, Brent, is the coach of AHL Bridgeport. Brother, Tage, is coming off a career season with Buffalo.
Thompson will have the opportunity to continue his development and establish himself as an option among forwards in the organization. There could be tough decisions at training camp for the Devils with the emergence of Fabian Zetterlund — who is also a restricted free agent and needs to be re-signed — as well as other standout forwards in Alex Holtz, Jesper Boqvist and Nolan Foote among others.
Gauthier signs overseas
One other key player from last season’s team, Frederik Gauthier, has signed with a team in Switzerland.
On Tuesday, HC Ajoie announced the team has signed Gauthier to a one-year deal. The team competes in the National League, the highest league in Switzerland.
The 6-foot-5 Gauthier had been a free agent after playing on a two-way contract with New Jersey last season.
Gauthier was counted on as a leader for Utica when he turned in a career campaign. He had 32 points in 51 games and also served as a crucial defensive forward. He was one of Comets coach Kevin Dineen’s most trusted penalty-killing forwards and showed a willingness to shoulder much of the team’s defensive burden.
The 27-year-old suffered a lower-body injury in early April after a collision with a Syracuse Crunch player and his absence was notable for the team, especially in the playoffs.
Gauthier joins offensive leaders A.J. Greer and Chase De Leo as players from last season’s Comets team to sign with other teams during this offseason.
Utica will have to have players step up to fill the absences for the 2022-23 season.
Utica is slated to open the season Saturday, Oct. 15, at Hershey.
The home opener is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 17, against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
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