LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 26: Christian Thomas, drafted in the second round by the New York Rangers, is interviewed during day two of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft at Staples Center on June 26, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
New York Rangers prospect Christian Thomas is about as highly touted as they come. Most of that comes from his jaw-dropping numbers in the OHL last season where he posted 54 goals and 45 assists for 99 points in 66 regular season games. He also dropped nine goals and 10 assists for 19 points in 10 playoff games for the Oshawa Generals last year.
Aside from preparing himself for training camp, in which he is expected to get a hard look from the Rangers brass, he is currently practicing with the Hockey Canada National Junior Team at their summer development camp. Thomas, along with a plethora of other prospects, are auditioning for a position on Canada's World Junior Championship team.
Thomas did what he was expected to do in the camp's first Red-White scrimmage last weekend, scoring the first goal for Team White in a come-from-behind 5-4 victory.
Join me after the jump for more on what this means for Thomas.
A good showing at Canada's camp, especially if he makes the WJC squad, would continue to boost his already sky-rocketing pre-NHL career. Competing in the Wold Juniors would give Thomas even more big-game experience, and it would be a good litmus test to see where he stands in comparison to the other budding talents the NHL has to offer.
Thomas has a skill set that seems to fit perfectly with what the Rangers are in need of. His shot has been placed in the "wow" category, and his vision and ability to create something out of nothing are major pieces to his game. Look at his goal scored in the first scrimmage, as explained by the Rangers official website:
Sent out to provide some energy in response to the game's first goal -- a power-play blast from Team Red defenseman Jamie Oleksiak -- Thomas responded in style when he pounced on the rebound of a shot by his Oshawa teammate and Development Camp linemate Boone Jenner and managed to scored from the slot as he was being knocked to the ice by a Team Red defender.
Thomas showed his great skill as a shooter by finding the puck with his skate through traffic, kicking it over to his stick, and then keeping his balance just long enough to rifle a shot off the right post and into the net past Team Red goalie Mark Visentin. He was literally on one knee when he took the shot.
Despite all the hype, many still assume that Thomas will be a long-shot to make the team out of camp. Especially with the addition of Brad Richards and Mike Rupp, there doesn't seem to be enough room for all of last year's players to make the squad. With both Erik Christensen and Mats Zuccarello on the fence when it comes to making the team at forward, Thomas would have to have an absolute stellar camp to push past either of them, let alone a player who was a staple on last year's roster.
That's not to say it's impossible however, especially when one is talking about a player with as much talent and potential as Thomas, but making the team out of camp would be a bit of a surprise.
Thoughts on this guys?