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New York Rangers Prospects: A Huge Year for Kristo

Why Danny Kristo needs a great 2014-15 season in the AHL with the Wolf Pack and a great training camp.

Stay on your feet Danny, you could be something special.
Stay on your feet Danny, you could be something special.
Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The Hockey News recently listed Danny Kristo as the Rangers' seventh best prospect, behind names like Anthony Duclair, Dylan McIlrath, and Conor Allen. When the Rangers acquired Kristo from the Habs last offseason there was plenty of excitement about what it could mean for the Rangers' prospect pool.

Kristo possesses that combination of speed and scoring touch that make most hockey scouts drool. In other words, he is the kind of guy that would fit handsomely into Vigneault's system and is very different from the two-way players the Rangers seemingly can't help but draft when they are available. At 5'11" Kristo is a little bit undersized, but it's worth noting that the Minnesota native is a right-handed shot which might eventually lead to him getting the inside track on making the Rangers roster in the 2015-16 season if he has a solid year in the AHL... and that is what I wanted to talk about with you guys.

There are a lot of us pointing to this being a huge season for J.T. Miller, perhaps even a "make or break" season for the young center (I still think that is one year premature). The same could be said for Kristo and the 2014-15 campaign he has playing in the AHL with the Wolf Pack. Despite this upcoming season being just his second full season playing professional hockey, Kristo is already 24 years old. So, he's 24 years old, a little bit undersized, he had issues staying healthy last season in Hartford, and he is apparently inconsistent and pretty lackluster away from the puck... not good. The chances of Kristo making the Rangers roster out of training camp this season are about as likely as the Montreal Canadians doing the Scott Gomez trade with the Rangers again if they knew everything they know now.

Kristo scoring 43 points in 65 games last season was an encouraging sign, but it certainly moved his name a little but further down on the list of the prospects Rangers' fans are most excited about. Just about a year ago Kristo was that guy we were all going nuts about after the Traverse City Tournament (along with Jesper Fast). Perhaps it is unfair to have expected more from Kristo, especially with him missing a big chunk of the season due to injuries and playing on a Wolf Pack team that was robbed of most of its talent by the Rangers during the 2013-14 season. It's worth noting that in Kristo's first 12 games he scored 13 points, including 8 goals. Up until December, there was a lot of talk about him getting a call up should the Rangers suffer another injury. 43 points in 65 games, including 7 power play goals, isn't too shabby for a guy playing on a talent-deprived AHL team that finished third in its division last season.

Danny Kristo's AHL Stats






















So what should we expect from Kristo? Will he ever be a top-six guy in the NHL? My take on him is that it is a little too early to answer that question- although I do think that it is more likely to expect him to succeed playing on a scoring third line like what we saw last season with Zuke, Brassard, and Pouliot. What we should be doing is keeping a close eye on what he looks like in training camp, preseason, and in the AHL this season. The Rangers went out of their way to add some real talent and depth to their AHL roster and it should benefit guys like Kristo, Lindberg, McIlrath, and Allen.

Perhaps we aren't as excited about Kristo as we were in September or November, and perhaps that is why The Hockey News lists him as the Rangers seventh best prospect, but it's far too early to make a conclusion about the fate of his career. Yes, he's older than most prospects and yes, we all wanted to see him score more than he did last season with the Wolf Pack... but let's not forget it was his first full season playing the professional game. Let's not forget that early in the season, he was one of the leading candidates for AHL rookie of the year. Let's not forget that he led the team in scoring for a large chunk of the year. It's clear that Kristo is not exactly Chris Kreider in terms of his potential and the impact he can have on this team, but that doesn't mean he can't help and be a part of this team sometime in the near future.

Danny Kristo signed the Rangers' qualifying offer so he's guaranteed to be in the system for at least one more season.

What do you guys think of Kristo? Are people too impatient with him? Do you think he has the goods to be in the NHL? Let me know what you think in the comments.

Let's go Rangers.