Thread: Prospect Info: Feature on Paul Thompson
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08-15-2011, 10:01 AM
  #15
Ian Altenbaugh
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I saw a little bit of him at the AHL level...maybe a total of four games over the last few years as a New Hampshire player...in two prospect camps as well. I'd say it's not necessarily his speed as it is his skating if that makes sense. He's good at getting from point a to point b and in general really strong. Moves around well for a guy his size...strong and mobile. He's not like Pavel Bure or even Mike Grabner for that matter (who I think is extremely underrated), but his skating will get the job done.

Hynes really heaped on the praise, but he did seem genuinely surprised at how quickly Thompson was figuring out the system as well as how quickly he looked in place. What impressed me was how Hynes believed that Thompson's production will translate to the NHL level. That's a bold statement to make for a prospect.

I can understand what he is saying though. Thompson has historically been a good offensive player for many years, it was a matter of figuring everything else out, which he appears to have. If he continues to progress at the same rate he has over he past two seasons there is no reason to not expect solid production out of him. The same could be said for another Pens prospect Beau Bennett, because of roller hockey, he developed into a ridiculously creative player offensively, but needed to learn the other facets of the game.

Thompson's HF profile projects him as a top-nine forward who has the capability to be a powerplay dynamo, similar to Tom Holmstrom (in how he is used, not in necessarily how he plays). Without comparing skill-sets whatsoever, I'd say Thompson will find a lot of success playing in the same areas of the ice as Holmstrom as well as Moulson. He has soft hands when he is in tight around the net. He's a much better skater than Moulson though...he can bring the puck through the offensive zone and cut to the middle, use his size and hands to occasionally beat guys one-on-one. He's been compared to Bobby Butler a lot too in the sense that Thompson also loves to shoot the puck and can play a similarly up-tempo style of offensive game.

At the draft I needled DJ Powers, HF's NCAA writer, for as much information I could get on Thompson (I've actually asked quite a few people over the last month but DJ was easily the most helpful), which she was happy to provide as she enjoyed watching him develop as a player over four years. She said it was like night and day when he played physical. When he was hitting guys and battling hard for the puck, he looked like a beast down low, when he wasn't doing the little things as he said, playing physical, keeping his feet moving, the play would often pass him by.

As I said earlier, he projects as a top-nine forward with the potential to post a lot of points on the powerplay. He's going to play next season in the AHL, there's no doubt about that really, though I could see him making a quick ascension up the depth charts. Expect to see him skate with a lot of different centers in training camp.

Overall, he came off as a quiet and polite young man, quick to defer his success to playing with good linemates and under a good coach. Came off as something of a student of the game too, I have no doubt he could've easily articulated the minutia of the Penguins system versus New Hampshire's if I'd asked.

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