Two familiar faces will return to the Pittsburgh Penguins organization this season, and one could become the longest-tenured Wilkes-Barre/Scranton player on this year’s roster.
Pittsburgh resigned forwards Zach Sill and Paul Thompson on earlier this week to one year contracts. Sill, 25, and Thompson, 24, both inked two-way deals worth $550,000 at the NHL level.
With several openings among Pittsburgh’s forward lines via free agency, Sill has a legitimate chance to see NHL time this season for the first time in his pro career. He has spent the last four years with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and last season he posted four goals and five assists in 57 games and also saw extensive time on the penalty kill.
Sill joined the organization as an undrafted free agent in 2009 and has 67 points in 259 career AHL games. Sill’s best season came in 2010-11 when he recorded career highs in games played (80), goals (11), assists (19), points (30) and rating (plus-16).
Thompson completed his second full season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and hit the 20-goal plateau while adding nine assists in 58 games.
His 20 goals were good enough for fifth-most on the team, and third-most among players who spent the entire season with WBS. Thompson added six points on three goals and three assists in 15 playoff games.
The 6-foot-1, 198-pound forward has played two-plus seasons with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton since being signed as an undrafted free agent on March 28, 2011. Thompson broke into the professional ranks with the Penguins near the end of the ’10-11 campaign, collecting three points (1G-2A) in six regular-season games and one helper in four postseason contests.
A Methuen, New Hampshire native, Thompson has tallied 57 points (31G-26A) in 131 AHL regular-season games, while adding 10 points (5G-5A) in 31 career postseason games.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton chief executive officer Jeff Barrett has been selected as the winner of the league’s Thomas Ebright Award in recognition of career contributions to the AHL.
Barrett has overseen the operations of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton since the team’s inception in May of 1998 – first as team president and now as CEO since 2004 – building one of minor professional sports’ model franchises. Under his leadership, the Penguins franchise ranked in the top five in attendance in nine of its first 10 seasons, including a league-record consecutive sellout streak of 144 games, and continues to have one of the largest season ticket bases in all of minor-league hockey.
In addition to currently serving on the AHL’s Executive Committee, Barrett has also been honored as the 2003 recipient of the James C. Hendy Award, given annually to the league’s Executive of the Year.
WBS recognized in several areas
It was also announced on Thursday that the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins were selected for digital media excellence in the Eastern Conference at AHL’s annual Team Business Services awards, recognizing outstanding achievements in a variety of categories including ticket sales, community service and fan experience.