In two recent rankings of the Rangers top prospects, the newly acquired Danny Kristo found himself in the top two in both polls...
NHL.com, who has him ranked as the top Rangers prospect, gives us this quote from Gordie Clark on Kristo's chances of making the team out of training camp...
"Danny's a little older. He's a little more experienced playing a lot in college. We have a situation where Hagelin and Callahan are going to be out [with injuries], at least in the beginning. We feel he has a good chance to fill in one of those roles."
Meanwhile, Corey Pronman at Hockey Prospectus, who has the 5' 11" Kristo ranked second in the Rangers system, lists his strengths...
"Kristo is a very gifted offensive player who can be fun to watch. He is a top-end skater, with a powerful first step and a clean stride. He is also pretty agile and good on his edges. Kristo's puck skills are plus, as he can make defenders miss with highlight reel plays on occasion. He has developed his playmaking game well, and last season, he was an above-average passer. Kristo has a decent on-ice work ethic as well."
Pronman did add that Kristo's physical game is poor, as he is small, and he has not really bulked up as much as he has needed to.
Kristo led the University of North Dakota in goals (26), points (52), shots (161) and plus/minus (plus-17) and was a top-10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award as college hockey's top Division I player. The 23-year-old was named a first-team All-American and College Hockey News' Player of the Year.
According to Steve Zipay at Newsday, Kristo is expected to begin the Traverse tournament later today on the top line with Oscar Lindberg and Jesper Fast. Here is the rest of the line-up...
Andrew Gross at the Bergen Record has more on Kristo here,
...sounds like Kristo has all the tools to be a real factor for the Rangers this season, especially on the power play. Makes me wonder why the Canadiens were so willing to let him go. As pointed out by Pronman above, could be that his lack of physicality leads him to disappear at times and not display his tremendous skills. Hopefully, it's just because the Montreal organization is terrible at evaluating their talent (see McDonagh). Canadien fans will want to kill themselves if the Kristo trade even approaches the larceny the McD/Gomez trade was.
Hey Rangers fans. The most common story floating around Hab land was that Kristo was considering going rogue in August and becoming a Free Agent under the "Screw you, I did 4 years in the NCAA" loophole. The Habs would have got nothing. See whatshisname re: Anaheim and Edmonton.
The story continues that Marc Bergevin was not too big on Kristo anyhow (Character!). Just google "Kristo frostbite" or "Kristo underage drinking" or....
So, the story goes that a deal was worked out. Kristo would sign a contract with the Habs and play a couple of games in the AHL, thus burning a year off his NHL contract. The Habs would then work out a trade for whatever they could get to send him to a team possibly more to his liking.
The Rangers would get a prospect upgrade. Kristo would be a year closer to RFA status. The Habs would get something more than nothing.
I don't know how close to reality that is but it makes sense of an otherwise seemingly incomprehensible scenario.
BTW Kristo was very well regarded among Habs fans and viewed as potentially one of the more NHL ready guys. Some expected him to possibly play a couple of NHL games last season after the Habs made the playoffs and were routinely dressing a couple of 21 year old kids from the AHL. Over at HabsEyesOnThePrize blog I think most would have had him around the bottom of the Top 10 of the "Top 25 under 25" exercise (where 1-5 are already NHLers). I am not so convinced on Kristo and probably would have had him at #13, but find comparing NCAA players to Junior, AHL or Swedes difficult. As did Pierre Gauthier and Bob Gainey in evaluating Ryan McDonagh apparently.
FWIW I had Christian Thomas at #19 based on very very limited information. Thomas is younger and with more Pro experience and success so far, could be something. I don't think many in the Habs community think Thomas is better than Kristo, which again lends some credence to the apocryphal story above. My own sense was that Kristo was maybe a 50% chance of becoming a second line NHLer and Thomas maybe has a 30% chance of being a third liner. I think the Habs have a half dozen or so smallish scoring forward prospects in the pipeline, so had some wiggle room there.
And on McDonagh/Gomez, while I regret losing McD, predicting success is nowhere near 100%. So I don't want to kill Gainey for trading McD much as I disagree with it. But taking on Gomez and his contract? That was just flat out insane. There is no possible way that makes sense. The Rangers should have given the Habs someone like Del Zotto as a "Thank You" gift for taking Gomez off their hands.
The only hockey team I am more of a fanatic about than the Rangers is the University of North Dakota. I watched Danny every game, and he is a great player. I agree with most of what has been said about him. He's fast, great hands and skill, and he can finish with a wicked wrister. The only knocks I would have on him would be his hot-headedness and his tendency to over handle the puck at times. I specifically recall swearing at Kristo on a number of occasions because he would stop skating and look at the ref expecting that he'd drawn a penalty. There was a point, earlier on in his college career, where I forbid anyone in my house to refer to him as anything other than "Mr. Turnover."That said, I believe he is a true competitor. I hope he can make the squad and add to the legacy laid before him by so many other greats from UND! I also request he razzes Miller for backing out of his commitment to North Dakota ha! I'll never let it go!Go Sioux Go Blue!!!
@TheNYRBlog oh god that would be sweet. Did we just swap Thomas for Kristo?
@TheNYRBlog blog down? or is it just me?
Kristo is another smallish forward who just might not have the bulk to play in the NHL. I wouldn't be so quick to thank MTL yet. Kristo may be faster than Thomas but Thomas is stronger and had a decent season in the AHL and 3 years younger than Kristo. Let's see Kristo play with the big boys before anointing him as another steal from Montreal. It might be the other way around.
What I like about the evolution of the Rangers is the emphasis put on speed. Last season there were so many times when we were "second to the wall" and as a result,we couldn't get out of our own zones. I remember many games when Asham, Rupp, Richards and Pyatt were flat out beaten to the wall simply because they were too slow. Hopefully Richards' off season conditioning will result in a quicker twitch for him. The same was true on defense where slowpokes Bickel and MDZ were late arrivers much of the time. Moore, Staal, McD, and Girardi can move. Bickel's been replaced and MDZ will be more useful on the third line with Falk who can skate.
In the end, it'll be Who is more of an asset to each team....who's going to score more goals and have more assists.....who is the clutch player in the play offs. From what I hear, Kristo sounds like he has more upside than Thomas here...only time will tell right!..oh, and thank you MTL for MCD as well.
Just speculating (aka 0 insider info), but if Montreal wanted Kristo to bulk up and he didn't - combined with his few gaffes in recent years at college - I could understand if Mtl's patience ran out. So they trade Kristo for Thomas, who I think I've read is a workhorse on and off the ice, and everyone's happy.
@neumann103 Really appreciate your comments here.....please keep them coming. I wonder (and I have consummate respect for The Habs as a total organization.....back to when Gainey wore skates) if The Habs traditional lean towards French players somehow clouds their appreciation of NCAA hockey talent. If you can I would love to get your perspective on that......THANK YOU!
I, too, thank you for your insight and how you expressed it!
@Hoser Hey Thanks for the insight.
@DPSnotty Nope. :(
@Garts2point2 Switched servers this morning. Might take a little longer for your provider to clear cache from the old server.
@AG_Blue Dick. lol
@lennynyr Thomas is not stronger at all, and he is significantly smaller. Kristo adds two inches and some 26 pounds to Thomas's diminutive stature. While Thomas is a fine player, Kristo appears the more likely to have a shot at success at the NHL level.
Thanks. As a traditionalist I tend to have an affection or at least respect for any of the original 6 teams. The Bruins have really stretched the limit on that goodwill, but really the only team I hate with a passion is the Flyers (spits)! Oh and if Quebec gets a team again then I will despise the New Newdorques with a passion.
I have seen a couple of Rangers games at MSG and the atmosphere is good and the fans are knowledgeable. But NYC is like that. It is cosmopolitan enough that there is a knowledegable market for everything. Lets just say that it is a bit different at a Carolina Hurricanes home game.
Anyway all to say that I always had a soft spot for the Rangers that not even Torts could totally destroy. Although the team has lost my favourite (that's right, with a "u"!) player: Brandon Prust. Hmmmmm, where did he end up?
The Habs have actually done a startlingly bad job of scouting the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in the last 20 years or so. You would think they would pay attention to their own backyard, and leverage the language difference to gain an advantage. Let alone the marketing impact of home grown players in such an obvious language context.
My understanding is that when Marc Bergevin took over as GM in May 2012 the Habs did not even have a single full time scout for that league. Bergevin has ramped up Scouting across the board along with hiring more player development coaches, including a couple who are native French speakers. So I think that is turning around.
One area where they have devoted a lot of scouting focus in the last 15 years and has resulted in draft picks is in the US, both at the High School and College level. The year that Kristo was taken the Habs only had 5 draft picks and took 3 US players. It is not a fluke. The year after they took 3 American boys out of a full complement of 7 picks. The year before they had 9 picks due to trades and used 5 of them on American kids. That was the year we like to think of as "The Max Pacioretty Draft" because thinking of it as "The Ryan McDonagh Draft" is just too painful.
Seven of the last nine 1st Round picks the Habs have made have been Americans, and one more was a French Canadian kid playing in the USHL. It is actually pretty striking how US centric the Habs drafting has been. The Habs have two full time scouts in the US, I think they are both based in the midwest, but the Habs are definitely tracking both hotbed regions of New England and the upper midwest/Prairie region.
They recently have expanded scouting in Europe,which had been underserved. They have actually made some very good European picks but they tended to be late round gambles. They seem to be paying a lot more attention to Sweden since Bergevin took over.
Behind this all is the Habs secret weapon: Trevor Timmins, who has been running the player procurement efforts for about a decade. Over his tenure he has the highest rate of picks making the NHL than any other NHL organization. He consistently seems to find guys, so even when he makes a puzzling pick that goes against logic (Mike McCarron anyone?) most of us in the fan base will just trust him.
They have also devoted resource to Player development coaches and hired two former NHLers to travel around and work with draftees all over the place. During the lockout Martin Lapointe and Patrice Brisebois were actually doing things like running a practice for a WHL team that had two prospects on it.
One of the secondary sick feelings from the trade of Ryan McDonagh for "he who shall not be named" was what McDonagh said after expressing surprise. He effectively said that he had not heard from anyone in the Habs organization for about a year. Now there are some weird insane rules around what you can and cannot do for NCAA athletes but it is just shocking that they would have that distance between themselves and a big asset.
I tend towards the realist end of the spectrum, and my expectations for the Habs tend to reflect that. I don't think I have picked the Habs to finish higher than 5th in the East in almost 20 years. But the Habs have an incredible core of under 25 year old players and a large number of high quality prospects in the organization who will be looking to make the jump in a few years. In virtually every category there are multiple players at each position who have mid to high end promise. If a third of them pan out, watch out.
A window is going to open for the Habs in about two years and for the latter half of the decade I think there is a very strong chance that they are a constant contender. So remember that and in a few years, impress all your Ranger fan friends as the guy who predicted it.
And oh yeah f#@k the Philadelphia Flyers! Not sure if I am allowed to swear on this blog so you might have to edit out that obscenity: "Flyers"
@AG_Blue @lennynyr I'm not ready to anoint him yet. You are right, Kristo weighs more and a little taller but I saw Thomas play and at 160 pounds, he is a bull in the corners, low C of G, hard to knock off his feet and got 19 goals in his first pro season. I haven't seen Kristo play, but from reports i read, he sounds softer than Thomas. Have to see him play against the pros, then an better comparison can be determined. My whole point was don't be premature thinkimg we robbed MTL again. Lets see him play first.
@neumann103 @EHBIGAPPLE Respect your knowledge and how you connect all the data to get more understanding and meaning. I go all the way back to having conversations with" the Road Runner", Ted Harris, Serge Savard and the man you guys appropriately labelled "Gentleman Jean".....took place outside of Central park when I was a kid. They were all incredibly gracious and appreciative and this little guy was blown away.
Also sold TV advertising on Flyer games in the Philly marketplace. Attended many Flyer-Ad client parties and avoided "a major confrontation" when I hit on "The Hammer's" wife who was not wearing a wedding ring at the time!
Will admit to being a big Keenan-Torts fan. I have found too many players attributing great appreciation to Keenan for their career development (Roenick, Pronger, Messier etc.) Many will thank Torts after they retire....count on that.
Been to the old Forum as a guest of Canadian clients and was presented with a Koivu original road sweater as a thank you from those same Canadian clients.For this guy Canadians' dark sweater is the best hockey sweater in the world.
Won over my French speaking clients from Quebec by opening my meeting in French (thanks to the concierge) expressing personal dismay in not knowing their beautiful language and feeling honored to be in the great city of Montreal.....needless to say I also won a lot of "friends" during evening meal time.
@JMK8363 Now you're talking my language. lol
I was a big fan of Thomas (though I had my doubts he would make the jump, I was rooting for him). I totally get your point about thinking we robbed MTL again, but to be fair, Kevin only said "if."
"if the Kristo trade even approaches the ... " and then he meant to say "larceny."