Christian Thomas in NHL Next Year?March 14, 2011, by
Friday night, New York Rangers prospect Christian Thomas broke the 50 goal mark and the excitement began to build amongst Rangers fans. I warned everyone not to get overly excited about what he could do at the NHL level with those numbers, and I meant that, but today I want to look at whether or not he could be in the NHL as soon as next season. Jess Rubenstein of The Prospect Park, the preeminent source for all things Rangers prospect related, suggested Saturday that he should at least get the chance to do so and I cannot disagree.
Gordie Clark has preached that a prospect needs to dominate at the level he is at before advancement. That being said then the argument can be made that Christian Thomas has earned at the very least a long look at making the Rangers next season.
52 goals in 62 games this season which puts him tied not only for the goal scoring lead in the OHL but in the entire CHL. 18-14-32 not in the early season but when his team is making a push for playoff seeding also offers evidence that says Thomas merits the same consideration that Chris Kreider does.
The Rangers want to make a case for Chris Kreider but allow us to make one for Christian Thomas. The Staal Standard measures how your play directly impacts how you team does.
Since Jess wrote that Christian went out and scored two more goals on Saturday night to give him 54, and he also had the shootout winner in the game. I would argue that Thomas has done more to earn consideration for a spot next year than Kreider has this season in terms of both dominating at his current level and meeting what Jess refers to as the Staal Standard.
For those unaware, the Staal standard came out of how Marc Staal excelled during the playoffs in helping to carry Sudbury a few seasons ago and now Jess measures the impact, not just points, but when points are scored in the most important time of the season. Obviously the playoffs have not come yet, but if Thomas plays in the playoffs how he has in the last two months with 18 goals 14 assists in the last 17 games then he will be on his way to racking up the same kind of acclaim.
Before anyone suggests it, the AHL is not an option for Thomas next season because of his age and the fact he was in the CHL at the time of him being drafted. I don’t know that Thomas is ready to be an NHL player just yet, but with the lack of scoring ability on this team and the fact he has little left to prove in the OHL he certainly has earned the right to give it a shot.