With Friday’s announcement that Rangers blue chip prospect (yes, that’s what he has become since being drafted) Christian Thomas has been invited to Canada’s World Junior Championship camp should the winger make the cut, next season becomes a win-win scenario for both the Rangers and Thomas. All of this of course depends on the timing of the whole process, but one key thing to consider here is the level of competition.
With the way Thomas has scored, almost at will, over the past two years – no OHL player has more goals over the past 2 seasons – there are valid concerns that should he not make the Rangers out of camp Thomas would face another year in a league in which he nothing left to prove. Don’t forget it’s either juniors or the NHL for Thomas due to his age. Making the Canadian team however, changes the concerns about another season outside of the NHL. A new, higher level of competition provided by the WJC would give Thomas different pressures and levels of competition to take on, and a new challenge to face.
Then there is the other side of this whole scenario to consider. While Thomas would face better competition if he made the Canadian team (which aids his development, benefiting both the Rangers and the player) should he in fact make the NHL club out of training camp it will mean his development has come to the point where he is NHL ready. NHL ready means Thomas would be providing the Rangers with another offensive weapon while presenting the player with a unique opportunity and the Rangers need goal scorers so as you can see, it could be win-win.
Worst case scenario for the Rangers would probably be that Thomas is not yet NHL ready but thanks to the WJC camp, right from the get-go, he will be facing a much stronger level of competition in the August camp and sets him up for a strong season.