Whether Christian Thomas makes it as a Montreal Canadien is of little concern to Rangers fans, although his smallish frame should fit right in with the Canadian club. Ranger fans, however, should be excited at the prospect of Glen Sather once again acquiring a potential NHL regular from Montreal. In Danny Kristo, the Rangers have acquired a player who has dominated at the college level and who appears to be joining the club at the right time.
With Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin injured, there is a position in the top six up for grabs to begin the year. While there are a few options with NHL experience ahead of Kristo (Zuccarello, Kreider, Pouliot come to mind), none of the options have a top six spot nailed on by any means, and all of the options mentioned can play elsewhere in the line-up. If Kristo has a strong training camp he could easily earn himself a look.
Kristo is a man who has earned accolades. In April, College Hockey named Kristo their player of the year and with 26 goals and 52 points for North Dakota it was an award much deserved. He was a Hobey Baker finalist, WCHA rookie of the year in 2010 and this season – to go with his Hobey nomination and CHN win – he was an all WCHA first team player.
Beyond the stats and the awards however, is the fact that with a full college career behind him –and at 23 years of age– Kristo should be ready and able to handle the pro game. With injuries in New York offering an opening, Kristo isn’t coming in to the organisation under prepared. Indeed, he represented team USA at the World Championships this year helping them to win Bronze, playing up front with a team full of NHL talent such as Paul Statsny.
Kristo will be well prepared when he arrives for training camp. The winger played in all ten games during the WHC, scoring 3 points. In addition to Statsny, the US team boasted Erik Johnson, Alex Galchenyuk, TJ Oshie, and Matt Carle so he’s already played with and against (the competition featured the likes of the Sedin’s) some very real talent.
Nobody is expecting Kristo to come in and immediately be a go-to offensive player, but there’s no reason the winger can’t contribute. According to College Hockey he can ‘do a bit of everything’ from goal scoring to the physical stuff, and it’s his work ethic and willingness to engage that could help him stand out from the crowd at camp. His hit on Ben Marshall for North Dakota suggests he’s not backwards in coming forwards, and if he can bring a combination of physicality and offense to the Rangers he’ll be better prepared for the NHL than Christian Thomas was.
The Rangers are going to need to generate extra offense this year especially while Callahan and Hagelin recover. Help from additional sources such as Kristo will be welcomed by Alain Vigneault. Kristo will definitely be one to watch at camp and beyond – he could be Glen Sather’s next great steal.