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Archive for Christian Thomas

With Friday’s announcement that Rangers blue chip prospect (yes, that’s what he has become since being drafted) Christian Thomas has been invited to Canada’s World Junior Championship camp should the winger make the cut, next season becomes a win-win scenario for both the Rangers and Thomas. All of this of course depends on the timing of the whole process, but one key thing to consider here is the level of competition.

With the way Thomas has scored, almost at will, over the past two years – no OHL player has more goals over the past 2 seasons – there are valid concerns that should he not make the Rangers out of camp Thomas would face another year in a league in which he nothing left to prove. Don’t forget it’s either juniors or the NHL for Thomas due to his age. Making the Canadian team however, changes the concerns about another season outside of the NHL. A new, higher level of competition provided by the WJC would give Thomas different pressures and levels of competition to take on, and a new challenge to face.

Then there is the other side of this whole scenario to consider. While Thomas would face better competition if he made the Canadian team (which aids his development, benefiting both the Rangers and the player) should he in fact make the NHL club out of training camp it will mean his development has come to the point where he is NHL ready. NHL ready means Thomas would be providing the Rangers with another offensive weapon while presenting the player with a unique opportunity and the Rangers need goal scorers so as you can see, it could be win-win.

Worst case scenario for the Rangers would probably be that Thomas is not yet NHL ready but thanks to the WJC camp, right from the get-go, he will be facing a much stronger level of competition in the August camp and sets him up for a strong season.

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HF: Rangers “Loaded” In Juniors

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The Rangers upper management sure has been busy this month.  In all, the Rangers have signed six prospects out of the Canadian Juniors, with only one eligible player (Dan Maggio) remaining unsigned.  Leslie Treff at HockeysFuture took an in-depth look at the nine prospects that the Rangers had in juniors, which includes the six signed and three unsigned (including Maggio).  Treff predicts that only one player has a legitimate shot at making the club next year (Christian Thomas), while another top prospect (Dylan McIlrath) is likely headed back to Juniors.

It’s tough to disagree with Leslie here when it comes to where the prospects wind up.  Due to age restrictions, Thomas is either going to play for the Rangers or return to the OHL.  At the risk of repeating myself, I still think he makes the squad outright.  McIlrath is also a lock to be returned to the WHL.  As for the other players that signed (Ryan Bourque, Roman Horak, Scott Stajcer, Jason Wilson), all four will be spending at least one season with the CT Whale, as Leslie states in her article.

Where things get interesting are with Maggio, Randy McNaught, and Andrew Yogan. Treff states that Maggio likely will not be offered a contract, which means the Rangers rights to sign him will expire next week.  I am a little disappointed to hear that, because once Maggio was traded to Oshawa (Thomas’ club), he showed vast improvement in his game.  I was hoping he would be signed, and to be honest, I assumed he would be.  However, it appears that the Rangers are done signing their prospects, which leaves him out of the bigger picture.

McNaught, who was initially drafted to be a tough guy for the Rangers, he suffered a sever ankle injury that required surgery.  With last season being his over-age season in Canadian Juniors, he cannot return there next year.  Treff states that he likely will not be given an entry level deal because of this.

As for Yogan, the Rangers will retain his rights for at least another year, as he was a 2010 draftee who was not in his overage year in the CHL.  Yogan has talent, but his shoulder injury really hampered the Rangers decision making ability.  He played well in his ATO with the CT Whale this year, registering three points in two games.  With the Rangers approaching the 50 contract limit, there is no need to sign Yogan now, especially when there is a significant shoulder issue.

In regards to long-term development of these prospects, Thomas is the only one likely to be with the Rangers next season.  McIlrath is also going to be a Ranger at some point (barring a significant trade).  Stajcer’s path is blocked by Henrik Lundqvist, so the best case scenario is that he becomes either a viable backup for The King.  Bourque, Horak, and Wilson will likely be in CT for at least a season and a half, possibly longer.  None really project out to be top-six guys at the NHL level.  It doesn’t mean they aren’t useful pieces though.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see any of them packaged in a bigger deal.

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Christian Thomas Press Release

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Here’s the press release for the Christian Thomas signing:


New York, May 19, 2011New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that the club has agreed to terms with forward Christian Thomas.

Thomas, 18, ranks first in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) with 95 goals over the last two seasons, and eighth in scoring with 165 points over the span. He captured “Most Dangerous in Goal Area” and “Best Shot” honors in the 2010-11 Eastern Conference Coaches Poll and was voted runner-up in “Hardest Shot” after finishing second among all Canadian Hockey League (CHL) skaters with a career-high, 54 goals. He and his father, former NHL forward Steve Thomas, became the only father-son duo to record 50+ goals in an OHL campaign.

Thomas skated in 66 games with the Oshawa Generals (OHL) this season, registering 54 goals and 45 assists for 99 points, along with 38 penalty minutes and a plus-20 rating. He established career-highs in points, goals, assists, power play goals (19), game-winning goals (nine), penalty minutes, and plus/minus rating. Thomas ranked second in the OHL in goals and sixth in points, and tied for first in the league in power play goals and third in game-winning goals. He led Oshawa in goals, assists, points, power play goals, and game-winning goals, tied for second in shorthanded goals (two), and ranked third in plus/minus rating. Thomas posted a career-high, 28 multi-point performances, including four hat tricks. He tallied a career-high, four goals on February 11 at Sudbury, to begin a career best, eight-game scoring streak (10 goals, four assists over the span) and season-high, five-game goal streak (eight goals).

In the 2011 OHL Playoffs, Thomas led the league in postseason scoring with 19 points and nine goals at the time of Oshawa’s elimination in the second round, having recorded at least one point in nine of 10 contests and six multi-point performances. He finished tied for seventh in the league in points, ninth in goals, 14th in assists (10), sixth in power play goals (four), and 17th with a plus-eight rating despite only skating in 10 playoff contests. Thomas led the Generals in playoff goals, points, power play goals, and plus/minus rating, and ranked second on the team in assists. He tallied three assists while making his OHL playoff debut on March 24 vs. Kingston, and followed that up with a four-point effort (two goals, two assists) on March 25 at Kingston.

The 5-9, 170-pounder has skated in 189 career OHL contests with the London Knights and Oshawa Generals, registering 103 goals and 87 assists for 190 points, along with 79 penalty minutes. In 2009-10, Thomas led Oshawa in goals (41), points (66), power play goals (16), and shorthanded goals (four), and ranked among the league leaders in several goal-scoring categories, including seventh in goals, and tying for second in shorthanded goals and sixth in power play goals. His 41 goals were the third-most among all players drafted in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, behind seventh overall pick Jeff Skinner (Carolina) and second overall pick Tyler Seguin (Boston). His four shorthanded goals also established a new Oshawa franchise record. Originally selected 13th overall by London in the 2008 OHL Priority Selection, Thomas was a part of the blockbuster OHL trade on January 8, 2009, that sent him along with Scott Valentine (Anaheim), Michael Zador (Tampa Bay) and six draft picks to Oshawa, in exchange for Michael Del Zotto, John Tavares and Daryl Borden. Thomas made his OHL debut with London on September 17, 2008 at Saginaw, and registered his first career point with a goal on September 20, 2008 at Sarnia.

The Toronto, Ontario native was originally the Rangers second round choice, 40th overall, in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

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Rangers Sign Christian Thomas

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Nick Kypreos is reporting that the Rangers have signed 2010 second round pick Christian Thomas to an entry level deal.  This shouldn’t surprise anyone that he has signed, as he absolutely dominated the OHL this year.  Thomas finished the regular season with a whopping 54 goals, 45 points, and 99 points in 66 games during the regular season.  In the playoffs, Thomas upped his effort, with nine goals and 10 assists in 19 games, averaging almost two points per game.

Thomas is currently the #3 prospect in the Rangers system, behind Chris Kreider and Ryan McDonagh.  The signing of Thomas is great news for the Rangers, as I believe this kid has a great chance to make the team out of the OHL this year.  The general rule of thumb is to allow prospects to dominate their current level prior to signing/promoting them.  Unlike Michael Del Zotto and Evgeny Grachev, Thomas dominated the OHL in both the regular season and the playoffs.  Expect him to get a long, long look this summer.

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A look At Jason Wilson; Draft Pick Signs

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2010 draft pick Jason Wilson today signed with the Rangers. Wilson signed following a very successful season with the Niagara Ice Dogs in the OHL. Not just thanks to a deep playoff run but also personally (statistically), it was a successful year for Wilson. Wilson registered 18 goals and 25 assists for 43 points, along with 94 penalty minutes and an excellent plus-20 rating.  He established career-highs in games played, goals, assists, points, and plus/minus rating.

So what do we know about Wilson and what does it mean? Firstly winger Wilson turned a lot of heads in the Rangers training camp to begin this season. That may have been where the physical Wilson really became a legitimate prospect for the first time. Many wouldn’t have taken the 2010 5th rounder very seriously prior to camp given that he was an overage draft pick to begin with.

Wilson plays a physical style and best resembles Brandon Prust from the current crop of Rangers. Barring a spectacular pre season Wilson will begin next season with the CT Whale where he will have every chance to succeed, especially if several current Whale players (such as Brodie Dupont and Dale Weise) were to leave. Wilson, being slightly older than your average draftee turning pro, will provide the Whale with energy, physicality, a willingness to fight and also an ability to add offense. This season Wilson surprised many with what many people saw as unexpected offense. Perhaps most intriguingly, Wilson played some of his best hockey this year at the most important time of year – the playoffs. During Niagara’s extended playoff run Wilson grabbed 12 points in 14 games, helping to knock out – among others – Christian Thomas’s Oshawa Generals.

With the trade of Ethan Werek for Oscar Lindberg, the signing of Roman Horak and now the Jason Wilson signing, the Rangers have already made a few moves with an eye on the future. Horak, Lindberg and Wilson may all be suiting up next season in Connecticut, although Lindberg may well stay in the SEL. Either way, Glen Sather and the Rangers are keeping busy ahead of the draft. Wilson, at this stage looks to be another nice late draft addition.

 Update 5:30 (Dave): Just got the press release, you can read it after the jump.

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Thomas Gets More Praise

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Even though his season is over, Christian Thomas has been praised once more, this time by Hockey’s Future. In their regular column called ‘on the rush’ HF look at some of the ‘most notable performances’ of the season in the pros, college, juniors and Europe and discuss at some length, the season of Christian Thomas.

To recap; Thomas exploded this season to finish the year with 54 goals and 99 points and did it all in just 66 regular season games. Indeed, Thomas’ numbers allowed him to finish second in the OHL in goals and 6th overall in points; a truly impressive season. HF had a few things to say about Thomas and while some Rangers fans may be concerned about his apparent lack of size (5’9, 170 lbs) they do note that he has a sturdy frame that helps him outwork opponents, aiding his goal scoring ability. Adding fuel to the thought that Thomas may be a Rangers’ dark horse come training camp was this comment;

His offensive game is already fairly polished, and he kills penalties, so the forward doesn’t have much left to do as far as diversifying his game at the OHL level. He could stand to add a little weight to his 5’9 170 pound frame though.

As many believed, it seems those who watch Thomas regularly also don’t think he has anything left to achieve in the OHL and offensively speaking he may already be able to handle himself at higher levels. A lot of work in the gym over the off season, getting his body ready for the pros would give a better chance at an immediate opportunity to stick at the next level. Whether the development of players such as Thomas had a part to play in the trade of Ethan Werek, well you never know, but Thomas seems to be on the fast track to success.

The Rangers could sorely do with an additional goal scorer and in a perfect world one that doesn’t cost assets or big dollars to acquire; hence Thomas may have a legitimate chance in September. His chances may depend on whether a guy like Chris Kreider decides to turn pro or not but one thing is for sure, training camp will once again be full of competition – only a good thing.

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Christian Thomas in NHL Next Year?

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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.

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Prospect Watch

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Plenty more prospect news to report from the past week but first of all a reminder that three Rangers prospects face Russia in the Subway Super-series on Thursday representing the OHL. Ethan Werek, Christian Thomas and goalie Scott Stajcer are all slated to play for the OHL side, it will be interesting to see how they fare.

Back to prospect performances and the hottest current prospect is probably Ryan Bourque of the Quebec Remparts. After their incredible start the Remparts are 0-2-1 in their last three but Bourque has continued to produce. On Saturday Bourque netted his 9th assist but his side dropped the decision, 3-2 to Montreal. The diminutive Bourque has now tallied 7+9 in just 12 games on the season.

A player who has got better as his season has worn on is Carl Hagelin. After a modest, penalty minute filled start the Swedish prospect has now got 3+7 in 10 games  as he grabbed 2 assists as his Wolverines won 5-2 in Alaska. Hagelin continues to look like a strong prospect and hopefully can help the beleaguered Hartford offense next year as he grows into an NHL player.

Another player that is becoming as reliable as a Swiss watch is Ethan Werek. As his OHL Kingston side has climbed into the division lead Werek has continued to rack up points. On Saturday Werek grabbed an assist and a shootout goal as his side won 3-2 against Bellville in the SO and he’s  now got 21 points for the year. If the talented center can do something about the slightly ugly +/- rating he’ll have himself a very fine season to take in to his pro career.

Over the Atlantic and Jesper Fasth is trying to stick with the men’s club of HV71.  After playing strongly back in junior, Fasth now has 1+1 and a +2 rating in 14 games for the big club. Fasth won’t be seen for a while in America as he’s a project and will be given a chance to fully develop in Sweden unless he has a real spike in his development.

The best news of recent prospect play is the constant improvement of Dylan Mcilrath. The 2010 1st round pick has played strong hockey both ends for a few weeks now and in 18 games this season is now 2+5 and has an even rating. More than the stats though are his team’s performances. After a very slow start to their year the Moose Jaw Warriors are on a 6-0-0 streak and have an overall record of 10-8-0-1 to surge into 2nd place in their WHL division. It will be fun watching Mcilrath continue to try and lead his club throughout the year. The Rangers could use his physicality sooner rather than later.

Key Prospect Stats:

Ryan Bourque 12 GP 7G 9A 16pts +5 5PIMS

Roman Horak 15 GP 10G 13A 23pts +2 16PIMS

Dylan Mcilrath 18GP 2G 5A 7pts E+/- 37PIMS

Christian Thomas 15GP 11G 10A 21pts+8 9PIMS

Ethan Werek 16GP 11G 10A 21pts -4 22PIMS

Carl Hagelin 10GP 3G 7A 10pts +6 21PIMS

Chris Kreider 8GP 2G 1A 3pts -4 6PIMS

Jesper Fasth 14GP 1G 1A 2pts +2 2PIMS

Scott Stajcer  12GP 9wins 2L 2.65GAA .911SV%

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Prospect Watch

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It has been a busy (and mainly) productive week for many Rangers prospects. Since we last wrote about the future Blueshirts one player in particular has gotten ‘back on track’. We said all along that what Ryan Bourque needed to do was stay healthy and then, he could be productive. Well it seems that’s what the undersized forward has done. In the last 3 games since returning from an injury Bourque has caught fire offensively scoring 7 points in the 3 games, going 2+5. Last Sunday in particular was a highlight game for Bourque as he paced his Quebec side with 1+2 and a +1 rating. It will be interesting to see if Bourque can keep up the pace when the Remparts play 2 games this weekend.

Another player (still) on fire is Czech center Roman Horak. 5th rounder Horak had a 3 assist night as he was named first star of the game as his Chilliwack Bruins beat the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL, 6-3. Horak now has a great stat line of 6+10 in just 9 games. Elsewhere, he might not have scored a goal (shock horror) for two games but another player keeping his offensive game going is winger Christian Thomas of the OHL’s Oshawa Generals. Thomas recently had a 2 assist game as his side managed to grab a losers point in the shootout against Ottawa 67’s. Oshawa were 3-0 down before losing 4-3 in the SO. Thomas now has a nice line of 10+7 in 10 games.

Perhaps the most important Ranger prospect to his current team is Ethan Werek. The 2nd round pick is front and center of the Kingston offense and is co-leader in points with Nathan Moon despite playing 2 games less. Both players have 15 points (both with 8+7). Werek was particularly clutch this past weekend as he led his side to a come-from-behind win scoring the game tying and game winning goals, to lead the Frontenacs to a 3-2 win over Sault Marie. Werek, like Horak and Thomas, has produced all season long and the Rangers thanks to these 3 players in particular look well set in terms of offensive prospects coming out of junior. All 3 players are also looking like great draft steals with none of them being drafted higher than the 2nd round.

Not every prospect has enjoyed a great start to their seasons however. A source of frustration is the continuing funk Chris Kreider finds himself in. 4 games into his season the Boston College winger still finds himself pointless. Given his rapid rise and almost dream season last year it’s surely only a minor blip for Kreider however it will be interesting to see how he rebounds from what is likely his first taste of adversity.

Another player who has had a little less success this week is goalie Scott Stajcer. The young goalie finally experienced his first loss but still boasts a record of 8 wins in 9 games, a .921 save percentage and a more than reasonable 2.52GAA. Stajcer was never going to go through the entire year undefeated so his first defeat is no great cause for concern.

Key prospect stats (correct at 5pm eastern Tuesday):

Chris Kreider 4GP 0G 0A -1 4PIMS

Carl Hagelin 6GP 2G 4A +3 19PIMS

Dylan Mcilrath 12GP 1G 2A -8 27PIMS

Roman Horak 9GP 6G 10A E+/- 8PIMS

Ryan Bourque 7GP 4G 7A +4 5PIMS

Ethan Werek 9GP 8G 7A +2 15PIMS

Jesper Fasth (stats from Swedish Junior) 6GP 3G 7A +8 4PIMS

Mikhail Pashnin 11GP 0G 0A -5 6PIMS

Max Campbell 6GP 3G 3A -2 0PIMS

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Prospects To Play For Team OHL

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Three Ranger prospects have been selected to represent Team OHL at the annual Subway Super Series, beginning on November 11. Center Ethan Werek (Kingston Frontenacs), winger Christian Thomas (Oshawa Generals), and goalie Scott Stajcer (Owen Sound Attack) will each play in the series. Each are off to strong starts and carrying their respective clubs through the beginning of the year. Werek has put up over a point per game in six games (6-4-10), while Thomas has been lighting the lamp at will in the first eight games of his season, putting up a whopping ten goals and almost two points per game (10-5-15). The biggest surprise could be Stajcer, who has been a rock in net for the Owen Sound Attack, with a GAA of 1.86 and a SV% of .943. Werek, Thomas, and Stajcer are the only Rangers prospects selected for the Subway Super Series.

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