Paul Thompson just finished working out in the gym when he got a phone call from Pittsburgh assistant general manager Jason Botterill on Thursday afternoon.
That evening, Thompson drove to Springfield to join the Columbus Blue Jackets organization.
The Penguins traded Thompson to Columbus for forward Spencer Machacek on Thursday. Thompson had been with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton since he joined the team out of college late in the 2010-2011 season. Last season Thompson registered a career-high 20 goals with the Penguins but struggled this season, producing four goals in 39 games.
Thompson said a change of scenery may be just what he needs.
“I enjoyed working with all the coaches in Wilkes-Barre and they helped me become a better hockey player,” Thompson said. “This season isn’t what I wanted it to be, but a change in scenery is good for me right now. I’m excited for the opportunity and I’ll go in tomorrow morning with a new focus.”
Thompson, 25, joins a Springfield team led by former Penguin teammate Ryan Craig. Having a familiar face on his new team is something that Thompson said will ease the transition.
“Ryan is one of the best guys I’ve ever played with and I’m looking forward to being his teammate again,” Thompson said. “He’s a great leader.”
Thompson closes out his time with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with 35 goals and 64 points in 170 games. He said Columbus was one of the teams that expressed interest in him when he wrapped up his college career at the University of New Hampshire.
Machacek, 25, will join Wilkes-Barre/Scranton after scoring nine goals and 19 points in 34 games with Springfield this season. He was drafted in the third round by Atlanta in 2007 and has appeared in 25 NHL games, scoring two goals and nine points.
Machacek has played six AHL seasons with the Chicago Wolves, St. John’s IceCaps and Springfield, tallying 258 points (107 G, 151 A) in 393 regular-season contests and 19 points (7 G, 12 A) in 30 playoff games.
Machacek was an AHL All-Star in 2010-11 when he established AHL career highs in goals (21), assists (32) and points (53) in 67 games with the Chicago Wolves.