Thomas' promise reflected in numbers
Rangers prospect continues lighting up OHL as league's top goal-scorer
• Thomas Named OHL Player of Week
By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
This past summer Christian Thomas, the Rangers’ second round pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, made a list of goals for himself in the coming season. At the top of the highly-skilled forward’s list was his desire to score 50 goals this season for the Oshawa Generals in the Ontario Hockey League.
With some games still remaining in the regular season, consider it mission accomplished for Thomas.
Last Friday Thomas, 18, reached the 50-goal plateau in only his 62nd game this season, scoring in the first period against Kingston. In typical Thomas fashion, he didn’t stop there, scoring twice more to complete a hat trick. One night later he scored twice more against Peterborough -- his 53rd and 54th goals -- to complete a nine-point week which earned him OHL Player of the Week honors for the second time this season.
|Rangers 2010 second-round draft pick Christian Thomas is the top goal-scorer in the OHL with a year of major-junior eligibility remaining. He is also the first Rangers prospect to reach 50 goals in that league since Ryan Callahan scored 52 in 2005-06.|
Thomas’ father, former NHL star Steve Thomas, also scored 50 goals during his his major-junior career. When Christian hit the magic mark on Friday, he and his dad became the first father and son tandem in OHL history to both score 50 goals in a season.
“He’s very proud of me,” Thomas said of his father, who scored 421 goals during a 20-year NHL career. “We made the deal at the beginning of the year that my goal was going to be 50. So to reach my goal was just awesome for both of us. I was told about the father-son record after the game and was really happy to share that with him.”
Unfortunately for Thomas, neither of his parents were able to attend Friday’s game. His Dad was in Norfolk, Va., as part of his work with the Tampa Bay Lightning, and his mom was watching the game back home in Toronto.
Because cell phones are taken from players on game days in major-junior hockey, Thomas was only able to text his parents later in the night and did not actually speak with them until Sunday.
“I shot them a bunch of texts late at night, but I knew that they were very proud of me,” said Thomas.
As for goals looking ahead to next season already, Thomas says his top priority is to add weight and build himself up physically so that he can better prepare for his future as a professional hockey player.
Thomas is listed at 5-feet-9-inches tall and 164 pounds. He knows he can’t do anything about his height, but he can certainly add more muscle to his frame.
“My size really hasn’t affected me,” said Thomas, who scored 41 goals and totaled 66 points last year. “Being a smaller guy you have to be aware more and be quicker, emphasize certain parts of your game more. And I am not in my man’s body yet, that’s for sure. I’ve got a lot of growing to do. I am planning on putting on some good weight this summer to help me in the season ahead.”
Thomas is looking forward to the Rangers’ annual Prospect Development Camp in July, as well as once again taking part in the Traverse City Prospects Tournament out in Michigan a month later. This past August, Thomas played extremely well at Traverse City, often playing on a line with Derek Stepan, who has gone on to have a Calder Trophy-worthy first year with the Rangers.
“He’s a really good leader and has a really good work ethic,” Thomas said of Stepan. “We played really well on the ice together and I learned a lot from him. Off the ice, he’s such a good guy.”
And wearing the Rangers sweater in Traverse City was special for Thomas, too, just as when he first slipped it on at the NHL draft in Los Angeles last June.
“Putting that jersey on was really special,” said Thomas. “I just aspire to one day wear that sweater in the NHL. It felt right, and hopefully in the next couple of years I can wear it for real.”