Penguin’s GM Ray Shero has been busy recently.

Shero has signed several players to pro contracts and amateur tryouts over the past week or so.

The biggest news is that the Penguins have signed one of the biggest college free agents this year, University of New Hampshire forward Paul Thompson.

Thompson, 22, is a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award given to the top NCAA hockey player in the country. His UNH Wildcats were eliminated from the NCAA Ice Hockey Championship in the “Elite 8” by Penguins’ prospect Bryan Rust and his Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Thompson wasted no time in signing with a professional team – roughly 12 hours after his team was eliminated from contention. Thompson played on a line with Ottawa prospect Bobby Butler last season.

Full scouting reports and information on Thompson below:


Position: Forward
Shoots: Right
Height: 6’1’‘
Weight: 205 lbs.
Born: 11/30/1988
Hometown: Derry, New Hampshire
Acquired: Signed as a free agent
FF says: Thompson is a gifted offensive player with a good shot that he is not afraid to use. Thompson attended Penguins rookie camp this season and he scored on all of his shootout attempts and showed good offensive instincts. Dealt with an injury during NCAA tournament and did not look himself against Notre Dame. His skating is average but skilled offensive wingers are a rarity in Pittsburgh and he should jump in and produce immediately in the AHL next season. Could push prospects like Nick Johnson, Eric Tangradi, Nick Petersen, and Dustin Jeffrey for NHL playing time as well with a good training camp.

What Others are Saying About Thompson

Thompson has some serious offensive pedigree. In his senior year, he posted 17 multi-point games and 12 powerplay goals, and was among the top offensive players in all of collegiate hockey. He’s sturdily built and while not overly physical, battles hard for pucks. He is also a very good stick-handler and scores a lot of his goals from around the net.

His skating is above average. He is not a burner by any means but can accelerate well and has good overall speed.

Thompson has a solid on-ice personality as well. He shoots the puck hard, accurately, and often. Although his personality is shoot-first, he is a creative playmaker and not afraid to dish the puck. He has good vision and hockey IQ, able to often anticipate plays.

As far as things that need improvement, Thompson’s skating could use an upgrade. It’s not bad, but improving it would vastly benefit his offensive game. As with many other young pros, he could probably stand to upgrade his defensive game as well.

McKeen’s: Describe the type of game you play. What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
Thompson: I am a smart player who knows the game well. My strengths are scoring, quick release, vision, and size. My defensive game needs to improve but it has come a long way in the last couple of years. Also, I need to consistently play physical.
McKeen’s: What would you say is the most underrated facet to your game?
Thompson: I would say my vision and skating are underrated. I have very good vision and I am a good skater for my size.
McKeen’s: Which NHL player do you model your game after and why?
Thompson: I try to model my game after Chris Drury. Drury does everything well, he can score, pass, skate, hit, and is a great leader. Drury also has a trend to win wherever he plays.

This is a pretty big deal. Thompson could be the kind of player who makes an immediate impact in the AHL. He’s 22, so he’s not a kid, and he’s coming off a big-time season for UNH. He was 10th in the country in scoring with 28 goals and 52 points in 39 games. He was Hockey East player of the year and a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award.

He’s not known as a great skater and he’s not huge (6-0, 210), so there’s no guarantee he’ll tear it up immediately in the pros, but he’s a pretty nice prospect on balance.

Video of Thompson in action

Interview and highlights:

Big shot from Prospect Camp in July. Thompson #24:

Shootout goal from July. Thompson #24: