NHL Prospect Profile: Christian Thomas

Each day in the lead-up to the NHL Draft on June 25-26 in Los Angeles, Yahoo! Sports will feature one of the Central Scouting Bureau’s Top 100 North American prospects from the Canadian Hockey League.

In Christian Thomas’ case the apple doesn’t fall far from the stump.

Oshawa Generals right wing Thomas, who is NHL Central Scouting’s 69th-ranked North American skater for the draft, is possessed of a similar stature—5-foot-8, 162 pounds—as his father, Steve Thomas, who was universally known as “Stumpy” during his lengthy NHL career.

The elder Thomas was never drafted by the Ontario Hockey League, let alone the big league, but tallied 421 goals and 933 points in 1,235 NHL games, twice hitting the 40-goal mark in a single season playing with seven different teams including the Toronto Maple Leafs, Chicago Blackhawks, and New Jersey Devils.

Christian Thomas surpassed the 40-goal mark this season—with 41—despite the Generals finishing ninth of 10 teams in the OHL’s Eastern Conference. Thomas led the team in scoring adding 25 assists for 66 points in 64 games in his first full season with the Generals after a trade from the London Knights in 2008-09 campaign.

The Generals finished out of the playoffs for their second consecutive year, with a regular season record of 24-39-3-2 and 53 points.

Thomas’ stock rose 45 spots during Central Scouting’s final ranking period, and he represented Canada at the world under-18 hockey championship in Belarus this spring.

1. How would you say your past season progressed, from start to finish?

“It was a tough year since we didn’t make the playoffs. We had a playoff spot going into the last 20 games and we lost it, but I thought overall I played pretty well, put the puck in the net (41 goals, 25 assists for 66 points), and hopefully we’ll make the playoffs this season coming up. “This being my second year in the league, I got to know who I was playing against a bit better. I got to play more on the first line, second line, power play.”

“For next year, I’ve set some goals, maybe score 50 goals, make the playoffs.”

2. In your mind, what would scouts say you have to work on between now and when you’ll be on the cusp of turning pro?

“Being a small guy, strength on the puck is a big thing. This summer I’ll be concentrating on my strength. Core, upper body, lower body, everything to help me skate faster and protect the puck along the walls.”

3. Whom in the NHL do you look at and say, ‘That’s someone I need to be playing like?’

“I would say the (Philadelphia Flyers’ Daniel) Brière or (the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Phil) Kessel. They’re both quick guys, both smaller guys who shoot the puck really well, both right shots like myself.”

4. Your father, Steve Thomas, was a NHLer, how has he been an influence on your career?

“He played 20 years in the league, so he helps me out with every little thing, a pat on the back when I play a good game and he lets me know when I play a bad one. He’s pretty positive. Every criticism has a positive note to it. “He was never drafted to the OHL or NHL, so he says I’m a step ahead of him at the same age (18). But he always says it’s a matter of how bad you want it.”

5. Favourite TV show or movie?

“For TV, The Ultimate Fighter. Movie—Step Brothers.”

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Sports Canada. Contact him at neatesager@yahoo.ca and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.

Updated Thursday, Jun 3, 2010