McKeen's recently had a chance to conduct a Q&A with 2007 NHL Draft prospect Paul Thompson, after a dominating season with the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs of the EJHL, where he led the league in scoring and won the Player-of-The-Year Award. Thompson talks about his game, his flourishing season, future college commitments, and the upcoming NHL Entry Draft.
McKeen's: How did you become interested in hockey? At what age did you start playing organized hockey?
Thompson: Hockey was always part of my mother's side of the family and I started playing organized hockey around the age of five.
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.
McKeen's: Who are the five most talented players you have played against or with and what specifically do you admire about their styles?
1. Denny Kearney- Denny was one of my linemates last year, I don't know if I will ever play with a better passer.
2. Ryan Simpson- Ryan was one of our goalies my first year with the Monarchs, he is an unbelievable goaltender who backboned our team to an EJHL Championship. He is probably the most focused player I have ever met.
3. Cory Schneider- I played against Cory a couple years ago in a summer tournament and he is obviously an incredible goalie.
4. Barry Almeida- I played against Almeida my first year in the EJ, he was a game changer. He could take control of a game individually and is a great hockey player.
5. Greg Holt- Holt is a great hockey player and has some of the best hands I have ever seen. He is also extremely quick and plays bigger than he is.
McKeen's: What do you focus on during off-season training?
Thompson: I focus on agility drills to improve my foot work and foot speed. I also focus on strength, sprints, and conditioning.
McKeen's: What was your main reason for choosing UNH? Was it nice to get the commitment out of the way early? And what are you looking forward to most about playing at the Whittemore Center and with coach Umile?
Thompson: UNH has always been my dream school to play hockey for. Representing my home state in college hockey is going to be unbelievable. It was great to get the commitment out of the way because I didn't have to worry about the college decision. I am looking forward to the great atmosphere UNH hockey provides, and also hopefully bringing the University its first NCAA Hockey National Championship. I am also looking forward to playing for Coach Umile, who has consistently led UNH to being one of the best teams in the country every year.
McKeen's: What were some of the other colleges you were interested in?
Thompson: Dartmouth, Providence, Yale, Ohio State
McKeen's: You are scheduled to go to UNH for 2008, (correct?) where are you planning to play next year (Jr. Monarchs or the USHL)?
Thompson: I am attending UNH this coming fall. Originally I was committed for 2008 but that decision was recently changed to attend school and play in 2007.
McKeen's: Which areas do you consider you have to improve to succeed in the next level in college and further?
Thompson: To succeed in the future I need to improve my skating. Also, continue to gain strength to enable me to compete in Hockey East.
McKeen's: The NHL Entry Draft will be coming up for you this year. Are you thinking about it at all?
Thompson: It would be an honor to be drafted, and of course I am thinking about it, but if it doesn't happen it is out of my control. Currently my main focus is working to help the team and also for myself to have success at UNH.
McKeen's: If you were drafted, what team would be your preference?
Thompson: I would be honored to be drafted by any team in the NHL. If I was able to pick a team I would prefer it would be Boston. My hometown team has been the Bruins my entire life. But, having my name called would be an incredible experience, no matter the team.
McKeen's: What was your favorite NHL team growing-up?
Thompson: The Boston Bruins.
McKeen's: What did you get the most out of playing in the EJHL? What did you enjoy the most?
Thompson: I developed an unbelievable amount throughout my two years in the EJHL. Coach Tremblay and coach Corkum are unbelievable coaches and really helped me develop my game and become a complete hockey player. I enjoyed playing alongside great hockey talent for two years. I also will never forget winning back-to-back EJHL Championships.
McKeen's: You were selected to represent the EJHL Select Team heading to participate in the USA Hockey National Jr. Jamboree, what was that experience like?
Thompson: It was an honor to represent our league at the festival. Although we did not come home with the results we set out for (two wins), it was an awesome experience and I enjoyed meeting opponents from around the league.
McKeen's: This season, your team won the so-called "Triple Crown" garnering the Northern Division Title, Regular Season Title, and now the Playoff Title (also winning back-to-back titles) and you were named EJHL's Player-of-the-Year, which award is most valuable to you and why?
Thompson: The award most valuable to me is winning the Triple Crown. It was our team goal from the beginning of the year and the fact that we accomplished it is a great feeling. Winning the Player-of-the-Year was a great honour but accomplishing what we did as a team is simply incredible.
McKeen's five fun questions:
1. What was your 'welcome to the EJHL' moment? (Goal, Hit etc.)
Thompson: I scored a goal in my first league game against the Syracuse Stars.
2. What is the best thing about your hometown Derry, NH?
Thompson: It's within an hour from Boston and the Lakes Region of NH.
3. Who is your favourite actor/actress?
Thompson: Adam Sandler
4. If you had your own theme song after a goal, what would it be?
Thompson: Shipping Up to Boston- Dropkick Murphy's