Kristo, the Canadiens’ second-round draft pick in 2008 (56th overall) posted 26-26-52 totals in 40 games last season with the University of North Dakota and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, which goes to the outstanding player in NCAA hockey.
Thomas, a 5-foot-9, 170-pounder, posted 19-16-35 totals in 73 games with the AHL’s Connecticut Whale and played one game with the Rangers last season, going pointless against the Canadiens on Feb. 23. He was the Rangers’ second-round draft pick (40th overall) in 2010. Thomas is the son of Steve Thomas, who played 20 seasons in the NHL.
Meanwhile, TSN reported on Tuesday evening that free-agent Vinny Lecavalier has agreed to a five-year, $22.5-million deal with the Philadelphia Flyers that includes a full no-movement clause. Under new NHL rules this season, following the lockout, teams were permitted to talk to players and their agents as early as July 1, but no contracts can be signed until July 5.
“Christian Thomas is a gifted goal scorer with lots of speed,” Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said in a statement. “He has been very productive offensively at the junior level with 137 goals before adding 19 more as a rookie with Connecticut in the AHL last season. This young 21-year old forward has shown tremendous character.”
Thomas, who is from Toronto, played junior hockey with the OHL’s London Knights and Oshawa Generals, registering 257 points (137 goals, 120 assists) in 244 regular-season games from 2008 to 2012.
Tuesday was also the deadline for teams to extend qualifying offers to their restricted free agents. Ryan White, Gabriel Dumont and goaltenders Dustin Tokarski and Robert Mayer were all qualified by the Canadiens, while defenceman Yannick Weber, who was a healthy scratch most of last season, was not and becomes an unrestricted free agent. Bergevin tried to trade Weber, but there were no takers and he’s giving the 24-year-old a chance to revive his career elsewhere. Forward Ian Schultz and defenceman Joe Stejskal also became UFAs when the Canadiens didn’t offer them contracts.
The Canadiens open their annual development camp on Wednesday morning in Brossard with 56 players taking part. The camp runs until Sunday. Twenty-eight of the players in camp were drafted by the Canadiens, including all eight picks from Sunday’s 2013 NHL draft. The featured attractions will be first-round pick Michael McCarron and second-round pick Zach Fucale, the first goaltender selected at the draft. Four players who have already seen action with the Canadiens — Jarred Tinordi, Nathan Beaulieu, Greg Pateryn and Louis Leblanc — will also take part in the camp.
All players will participate in off-ice testing at Brossard’s Bell Sports Complex on Wednesday, beginning at 8:30 a.m.. The first on-ice practice session will start at 4:30 p.m.
On-ice practice sessions (three groups) will take place in the morning for the reminder of the camp, with scrimmages at the end of the day. A two-team intrasquad game will be played on Sunday at 9:30 a.m.
All practices are open to the public.
(Photo by Phil Carpenter/The Gazette)