Paul Thompson is thinking about himself more than his goal this offseason.
Like any pro hockey player, Thompson’s ultimate goal is to make it to the NHL.
But that’s not his focus as he spends the summer working out and preparing for training camp in September.
“The NHL is the goal, but it’s not something I worry about,” Thompson said. “The goal that I’m concentrating on is making a good impression when camp starts and see what happens from there. If I worry too much about the other stuff, it takes away from that focus.”
This summer Thompson doesn’t have much “other stuff” to worry about as the third-year winger signed a two-way NHL contract with Pittsburgh earlier this month. For Thompson, signing on for another year with the only organization he has known since coming out of college in 2011 is a chance to continue his development in the Penguins’ system.
Last year — his second as a pro — Thompson notched a career-best 20 goals in 58 games. He also added a physical element to his game with 84 penalty minutes.
Thompson said he hopes to continue to add other elements to aid his goal of reaching the NHL.
“Coming out of college I had more of a one-dimensional game, offense,” he said. “I knew I needed to become a better overall player. That’s the only way I’m going to become a better offensive player.”
Unlike last season when the lockout wiped out NHL training camp, Thompson is looking forward to Pittsburgh’s camp in September as he eyes a spot on one of the forward lines.
And just as important, Thompson will have an opportunity to see how he stacks up against NHL players.
“It’s great for a guy like me. You can measure yourself against NHL-caliber guys,” he said. “Last year was unfortunate because I didn’t get that chance.”
With the departures of Trevor Smith, Riley Holzapfel and Chad Kolarik, along with Brian Gibbons remaining unsigned, if Thompson returns to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to open the season he will be the highest-scorer left from last year’s roster.
The high rate of turnover isn’t a surprise to Thompson and he’s ready to contribute more offense if needed.
“The first year I was here we lost a good amount of guys as well. In the AHL, every year it’s like a new team, which is exciting,” he said. “But at the same time we had a good team last year and it’s sad to see those guys go.”
WBS Pens add another goaltender
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton signed goaltender Peter Mannino to an American Hockey League contract on Wednesday.
Now entering his sixth year of professional hockey, Mannino went 10-7-0 in 20 games with the Manchester Monarchs last season, while recording a 2.47 goals against average and a .919 save percentage.
An undrafted free-agent out of the University of Denver, Mannino began his career with the New York Islanders organization in 2008-09, going 17-12-2 over 34 games for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers with a 2.94 goals against average and .900 save percentage. He made his NHL debut with the Islanders against the Boston Bruins on Nov. 28, 2008.
Mannino has played a total of 159 AHL contests between Bridgeport, Chicago, St. John’s, Portland and Manchester and established a career record of 81-52-8 with four shutouts, a 2.83 GAA and a .905 save percentage. His best season came in 2009-10 with the Chicago Wolves as he touted a 26-5-1 record and a .921 save percentage that was tied for third in the league. He has appeared in six NHL games with the Islanders, Atlanta Thrashers and Winnipeg Jets. The 29-year old has also skated in 31 ECHL games with the Utah Grizzlies and Chicago Express.
Originally from Farmington Hills, Michigan, Mannino was a four-year starter at the University of Denver. As a freshman, he led the Pioneers to the 2005 NCAA Championship, while earning honors as the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.