Crucial Period Ahead for Christian Thomas

January 19, 2012, by

After a season in which he reached 50 goals and played to a level where most considered him a blue chip prospect, it seems odd to suggest Christian Thomas’ next twelve months is almost a cross road for him in regards to his Rangers future. However, Thomas is indeed facing a critical period in his career.

This season has been somewhat of a struggle for Thomas. Playing on a middling Oshawa Generals team, getting a long suspension, struggling with his own form (compared to his previous year); the first half of his season was summed up by his failure to make the Team Canada roster for the WJC – a side that hardly covered itself in glory. Thomas’ season has been anti-climatic.

Thomas is still a good young hockey player. However, he is an undersized scoring winger – the type that usually cannot play in the bottom six. Thomas needs to be on a scoring line to thrive and this is why his future with the Rangers is in doubt. With Marian Gaborik enjoying a bounce back year, Ryan Callahan firmly entrenched as captain (and fan darling) and Brandon Dubinsky very much part of the core, there doesn’t remain much space for players to crack the top six that already reside in New York.

Things get even murkier for Thomas when you consider his competition for the wing spots beyond this season. Chris Kreider is enjoying his best season with Boston College and is widely tipped to be a Ranger next season, so Thomas has at least one elite prospect in front of him.

With JT Miller enjoying a solid WJC for Team USA and having a fine season in Plymouth, Thomas may indeed have two first round talents ahead of him without factoring in anyone else. Tough competition indeed. In fact, because of the apparent prospect depth the Rangers enjoy, Thomas may be a deadline asset the Rangers use if they decide to grab a player for a run this season. The fact Thomas is even in the discussion as potential trade bait speaks volumes about his current status.

Thomas currently has 38 points in 31 games for Oshawa. With 18 goals and 6 power play goals Thomas is still a key offensive contributor for his team, but they are hardly awe inspiring numbers. It may have benefited Thomas to have been traded to a contender at the OHL deadline, but instead Thomas found himself stuck (?) in Oshawa. The smallish winger needs to have a great end to his domestic season. He needs to try and be the reason his Generals team sneak in to the playoffs. He needs to score heavily to remind everyone why he was regarded as a quality Rangers prospect. However, that’s just half the task at hand.

Starting next summer, Thomas needs to have a great camp and make sure he plays a solid role in preseason culminating in either a Rangers spot (absolute best case, but unlikely scenario) or more likely, when he arrives in Connecticut for the 12/13 season. He has to play so well that he forces himself a future in New York. Thomas has a lot of talent, but also a lot of work ahead of him. The path is not nearly as clear as it once appeared. While that is a testament of the depth in the Rangers’ organisation it is clearly a rocky road to New York for Christian Thomas.


  1. P&D says:

    Off this subject: but wondering how Mats Zuc is doing? Is he going to get traded? I liked his passion, just owndering if you knew anything…

  2. Zen says:

    I had similar thoughts about Thomas. Knowing that Krieder isnt going anywhere, Thomas might be asset moved if it means bringing in a stud for a CUP run.

  3. Leatherneckinlv says:

    Except for this post I have not seen Thomas’s name discussed in trade talks. Do tell where you saw him being mentioned in trades? Dude he is a prospect and a very good one at that so this post to me is nonsense. Is he an asset that could be traded, yes but his price should be high not low. Let’s not make him out to be a Zuke just yet

    • The Suit says:

      I don’t think the essence of this post was to demand that Thomas be traded or to point fingers or anything. It’s just exploring the idea of trading him if you believe the Rangers could potentially make a big move.

      • Leatherneckinlv says:

        I think for the right trade then he should be discussed so I agree there. What I am saying is he is a blue chip prospect so the price should be high. He is a first round talent that fell to us in the 2nd round. Had he had those numbers he had last year on his draft year you can rest assured he would have been a mid round 1st round pick…say 9 to 17 range. What we have here is strength within the organization and not look at it instead with excess players to compile a trade. I would like to point out Grachev as a case in point where we could have gotten more out of him in a trade than just a third round pick. As an we didn’t handle Grachev well so I bet that has a bearing on many of our prospects not named Krieder.

        • Leatherneckinlv says:

          Somehow organization got deleted in where I said As an we

        • The Suit says:

          I agree with you on not trading our prospects away for free, but I don’t think that was the case with Grachev. Glen’s hand was a bit forced as both Evgeni and his agent wanted him out of the AHL, so the timing wasn’t ideal as he hadn’t really produced yet.

          Either way, Evgeni got what he wanted. He got traded to a new organization, but he didn’t impress the Blues either. Now he’s back in the AHL. If he ends up going back to Russia (which is always a possibility) we will be lucky we have a third rounder to show for it.

  4. Jess says:

    Re: Thomas
    I am the one that wanted to see Thomas moved because I didn’t think Oshawa was looking to contend this year. However at the trade deadline Oshawa became buyers rather than sellers and made moves to address the key areas that were hurting.

    Since the trade deadline the generals are showing signs of life which is a good thing as the OHL’s Eastern conference is wide open go on a five-game win streak and you find yourself right in the middle of a playoff race.

    You won’t see Thomas offered on the trading block mainly because the belief within range of system is that he has a true NHL shot and they can do a lot of things with Thomas and terms of use that they can’t with other players.

    And after you what we are coming up on Thomas time which is February March and if there is ever a player and put up 20 goals in a hurry it’s Christian Thomas

  5. Rickyrants13 says:

    Hagelin is way in front of him at this point as well. I didnt read this thread so I dont know if anyone else mentioned this…

    • kgb16 says:

      Hagelin is a true NHL talent and will never go back to the minors. His speed and puck presence a re superb. He plays 2 ways and is responsible defensively. He can play top or bottom 6. What a great young player. If it looks like Thomas doesn’t have a chance of making it up to the Rangers, he should be moved for assets of value, as part of a package for a top 6 scorer who can contribute now.

  6. Tom says:

    Lets stop thinking about making one Cup run, and instead building a team that will be Cup Contenders for many years going forward. I don’t want to see one run and done. That makes no sense for the long term prospects of the franchise.
    A trade has to help both teams, so every other team is going to ask for our good, young prospects, as they should.
    I wouldn’t trade any of our good young players or prospects to make a run this year. The Rangers have a long way to go building this team, because winning 2-1 games night after night is not going to happen every night, as we are seeing this now. When the Rangers play better offensive teams in the playoffs, that’s where they are really in trouble. One high priced veteran is not going to make a huge difference. Continue to build from within.