It's a third trade in as many days for the New York Rangers. Today, the Rangers announced that they are sending 2010 2nd round selection Christian Thomas to the Montreal Canadiens in return for forward prospect Danny Kristo. Thomas, 21, just completed his first professional season, scoring 19 goals in 73 games with the Connecticut Whale and earning his first NHL game with the Rangers against, of all teams, the Canadiens. Kristo, 23, was a second round selection by the Canadiens in 2008 and just finished his senior season at the University of North Dakota, where he produced 52 points in 40 games and was named a finalist for the Hobey Baker award. Kristo also won a bronze medal with Team USA at this year's World Junior Championships and was a part of the 2010 team, along with Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan, and Ryan Bourque, when they won the gold medal.
A very interesting trade. Christian Thomas was attending this year's prospect camp and was participating in all sorts of Blueshirts United features, including some today. It's unlikely that the Rangers would have had him attending the camp, much less doing spots for the website, if the Rangers thought he could have been moved. Thus, it's likely that this is a trade that came into fruition the last couple of days and was completed rather quickly. Here's a nice summary of Kristo from Hockey Prospectus' Corey Pronman:
Kristo was a First-Team All American in the NCAA West and a finalist for the Hobey Baker for top college player in the country. He also appeared for the USA at the World Championships. He’s a very skilled offensive forward who can show good to great skating ability and offensive skill. His playmaking looked better this season and he works hard at both ends. He’s a smaller winger who hasn’t been able to build up strength well. Kristo, who just turned 23, is arguably NHL ready or somewhat close to making the jump. He becomes one of the Rangers top prospects and could be a decent addition soon for a power play that hasn’t been the best.
Pronman goes on to call Kristo the "better prospect" and says that, in his opinion, this is a win for the Rangers.
If so, then why does Montreal make this move? Kristo has a rather interesting history. He was arrested last September for serving alcohol to minors. He, as well as a few teammates, were then suspended by the university in relation to the incident. Largely because of this incident, questions of Kristo's character have risen. Montreal GM Marc Bergevin made a passive aggressive jab at Kristo when talking about acquiring Thomas from the Rangers.
"This young 21-year old forward has shown tremendous character” – Marc Bergevin in his quote on Christian Thomas. Read between the lines.
— Arpon Basu (@ArponBasu) July 2, 2013
By all accounts Thomas has been nothing but class on and off the ice, so he's not wrong in that regard. But there's clear disdain with how Kristo has handled himself not only at North Dakota but perhaps with the Habs as well.
Of course, Clark, Sather, and Gorton were obviously well aware of Kristo's history and undoubtedly did their homework. Thomas had a solid first year in the AHL and there were no indications they were souring on him. The logical inference to make is that the Rangers scouts view Kristo as the better talent and took advantage of Montreal's willingness to let him loose. Still, it's never fun to see a hard working prospect with potential like Thomas depart, and with all of our powerplay ineptitude it's unfortunate that he's never going to get a chance to show off his ability to blast pucks home from the circles. It's hard to do much but give Gordie Clark and the rest of the scouting staff the benefit of the doubt, as they've been right for more times than wrong in recent history when it comes to prospects.
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