Danny Kristo originally was a second-round pick by the Montreal Canadiens back in the 2008 draft, but the New York Rangers acquired him in a deal for Christian Thomas over the summer. The 23-year-old winger has had a great season to date in the AHL, and he has more than earned an opportunity with the Blueshirts this year.
After having an amazing collegiate career, Kristo was given nine games with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL before being dealt this summer. The 5'11", 185-pound winger started the season on the Blueshirts' preseason roster, and he impressed team brass before being sent down to the minors.
Via Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News:
But young right wing Danny Kristo’s encouraging performance demonstrated exactly why exhibition results aren’t coaches’ primary concern in September.
Kristo recorded the primary assist on Dominic Moore’s third period goal and nearly knotted the game late after earning an opportunity to play during the game’s most critical juncture with his earlier creativity.
"I liked Kristo’s game tonight," Vigneault said after the game at the Prudential Center. "I thought he showed some real poise and some really good offensive abilities."
Since his demotion, Kristo has scored eight goals and has recorded six assists for 14 points in 14 games. He has been the Hartford Wolf Pack's best player, and he has been a leader since the promotion of Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller and Cam Talbot.
The above three were the Wolf Pack's best players, and it was expected that the team would slump in their absence. Although the team has lost three straight, they remain tied for second in the division with 16 points. Kristo has been the team's top bright spot, but he deserves to get a promotion.
The Rangers are starting to become stronger offensively, but they could use more of a boost. Benoit Pouliot has struggled mightily—he has two goals and two assists through 17 games and has accumulated 29 PIMS—and he deserves to be a healthy scratch.
Taylor Pyatt is also currently out of the lineup with a concussion, and moving him to injured reserve would free up a roster spot for Kristo.
When it comes to promoting the 5'11" winger, the Blueshirts have a number of options. Kristo can continue to play at the AHL level, or the Rangers can give him a spot that he has earned. When healthy, this is what the Rangers lineup could look like.
|Chris Kreider||Derek Stepan||Mats Zuccarello|
|Rick Nash||Brad Richards||Carl Hagelin|
|Danny Kristo||Derick Brassard||Ryan Callahan|
|Brian Boyle||J.T. Miller||Derek Dorsett|
Tom Urtz Jr.'s Ideal Lineup
This lineup features a combination of size, speed and skill, and ultimately Alain Vigneault would be able to comfortably roll four lines. Having depth is very important, especially in the playoffs, and Kristo is a player that can make a difference.
Christian Thomas had offensive talent, but he was too small at 5'9" and 165 pounds. The extra 20 pounds on Kristo's bones should allow him to keep up with the rigors of the NHL, and it should allow him to still use his speed to his advantage.
Kristo's speed is something that stood out during the preseason, and Vigneault employs a system that utilizes speed. You have already seen how Kreider, Mats Zuccarello and Carl Hagelin's games have thrived under Vigneault, and the same could happen with Kristo.
There is no guarantee that he will be successful once brought up, but he has been working hard this year, and he deserves the roster spot more than someone like Benoit Pouliot. The Rangers have been cultivating a youth movement for years, and the trend should continue with the Count of Monte Kristo.