The 2010 NHL Entry Draft is quickly approaching, and, thus far, the Flames' first pick will be in the third round, 64th overall. I've decided to profile a few players whom the Flames could potentially select come June 25th-26th. Today's player is Oshawa Generals winger Christian Thomas. Ranked 69th by Central Scouting in their final rankings, he moved up 45 spots from his mid-term ranking of 114th overall.
Junior Team: Oshawa Generals
Son of former NHLer Steve Thomas, a pint-sized forward who enjoyed a successful career with the Leafs, Blackhawks, Ducks, and Red Wings despite never being drafted, Christian Thomas joined the Generals part way through his rookie season in a trade with the London Knights which saw him shipped out in exchange for last year's first overall pick John Tavares, and managed only 4 goals, 14 points, and a was -16 in 27 games with Oshawa in 08-09. This past season, however, Thomas led his team in scoring with 41 goals and 66 points in 64 games (including 16-11-27 PPP and 4 shorthanded goals) in his second season of major junior, on a Generals team that finished third-worst in the OHL with 53 points and a record of 24-39-5.
Oshawa Generals head coach/GM Chris DePiero spoke highly of his top scorer:
"He's fast, he's quick and he just gets to loose pucks and he's got that release when he needs to release it, he's just got that knack to score. He scores every which way."
Thomas was voted the OHL Eastern Conference's most improved player in the 09-10 coaches' polls, and finished behind Flames prospect Bryan Cameron in a pair of categories (most dangerous player in the goal area and best shot) according to Maple Leafs Hot Stove, who also had this to say about Thomas' game:
...His bread and butter of going hard to the net is supported by excellent speed and skating skills (what else would you expect of Stumpy’s [Steve Thomas'] son) and a nose for goal. Coupled with decent hands, a high hockey IQ, and cannon shot, Thomas has the potential to be a killer offensive force in junior the next couple of seasons.
...Christian has a chippy edge and has shown he isn’t afraid to throw around what mass he has and furthermore he works hard on the puck all the time and knows how to make himself open. You could characterize Thomas’ play as doing the simple things well, doing them consistently and doing them with fast, hard skating.
Thomas has yet to put up the kind of numbers to suggest he could handle top 6 duties in the NHL and lacks the size to be a pure energy third liner....what a team would be drafting in Thomas is a whole-lotta likeable skill, bloodlines, and sense with only one standout year to his name.
As with most players projected to go in the third round or lower, the odds are already stacked against Thomas, but as an 18-year-old with at least two more seasons of junior hockey left to play out, there's still plenty of room for growth and development--something a team in the Flames' position should to be mindful of.