Penguins minor league report: Thompson gets fresh start in Columbus system
WILKES-BARRE — From Brian Gibbons to Jayson Megna to Zach Sill, the Penguins have had their share of undrafted-prospect-makes-good stories this season.
Paul Thompson was not one of them. After struggling through the first four months of his third pro season, Thompson was dealt to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Spencer Machacek in a swap of 25-year-old right wingers earlier this month.
The first two years of Thompson's pro career went according to form. After a 28-goal senior season at New Hampshire, he signed an NHL deal with the Penguins in 2011. In the AHL, he improved from 10 goals as a rookie to 20 goals last year and started to look like he had potential as a sturdy, 6-foot, 200-pound NHL third liner.
Then his game fell off a cliff. He had four goals and a team-worst minus-8 rating in 39 games before being traded. Coach John Hynes was nothing but complimentary in his comments about Thompson, but it's no secret the Penguins weren't pleased with his lack of competitiveness on the puck, and it showed no signs of improving.
“Sometimes guys get in a situation where a change of scenery helps or a different voice helps,” Hynes said.
In return, the Penguins got Machacek, who is no longer a high-ceiling prospect in his sixth pro season, but he can play in all situations for the Baby Pens and be a call-up option.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Machacek is a three-time 20-goal scorer in the AHL with a physical element to his game.
He has played 25 career NHL games, putting up nine points in a 13-game stint with Winnipeg in 2011-12.
“He wins his one-on-one battles,” Hynes said. “He's good in the hard areas of the ice.”
The AHL changed its all-star format, having a team of the league's best players face Farjestad BK of the Swedish Hockey League in an exhibition Wednesday night.
Gibbons had two assists in a 7-2 win, but the interesting part is how he got them. Because the game resembled an actual hockey game, rather than the no-defense scrimmages all-star games often become, Gibbons was active on the forecheck. Twice, he forced turnovers to set up Ryan Strome, a New York Islanders prospect, for goals.
Hall of fame
The Baby Pens are inducting the inaugural class into the team's hall of fame Saturday. Popular enforcer Dennis Bonvie and captain-turned-assistant-coach Alain Nasreddine will be the first two players enshrined.
Night to remember
Notre Dame right wing Bryan Rust, the Penguins' third-round pick in the 2010 draft, had a game to remember against Maine on Feb. 8. He scored the tying goal with 1:08 left, then netted the game winner 24 seconds later to lead the Irish to a 3-2 victory.
The 5-11, 198-pound Rust projects as a checker as a pro, but he has 11 goals and 24 points through the first 29 games of his senior year.
Jonathan Bombulie has covered the Baby Pens for the Citizens' Voice in Wilkes-Barre since the team's inception in 1999.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Timing drives former KHL star Plotnikov
- Penguins notebook: Crosby most excited by Kessel’s footspeed
- Sestito ready to fight for job on Penguins
- Crosby’s off-ice life hardly reflects that of a superstar
- Penguins’ Johnston: Kessel, Crosby likely to open season together
- Penguins defenseman Oleksy brings nasty streak, toughness
- Penguins break in new Cranberry training facility