There have been a lot of ups and downs for Danny Kristo in his short career, but everything finally seems to be going his way.
Kristo, who was drafted in the second round, 56th overall by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, has faced much adversity and criticism over the past number of years due to alleged work ethic issues. The height of this was during his sophomore season at the University of North Dakota, where he was first suspended for one pre-season game because of a team policy violation, and later was sidelined for ten games with a severe case of frost-bite after losing a shoe in the snow while walking to his girlfriend's apartment.
Despite concerns over how hard Kristo is willing to work, his skill has never been in question. The speedy forward proved that last season, when he totalled 45 points in 42 games with the NCAA's Fighting Sioux, setting career highs for goals and assists as an integral part of the North Dakota roster as injuries plagued the team's campaign. This season has been no different, as the Eden-Prairie, Minnesota native has put up 13 goals and 30 points in his first 20 games on the year, including 17 points in his last 7.
Heading into the home-stretch of his fourth season with UND, it is likely that Kristo will be turning pro next season. Though he still needs to be signed by the Canadiens, he is widely regarded as one of the most offensively talented prospects in the Habs' system. Some critics believe that he's uninterested in joining the Canadiens after returning to college, but having attended numerous camps, and having friend and former Omaha Lancers teammate Louis Leblanc on the Bulldogs roster, there is no reason to believe Kristo will not be in Hamilton next season.
Known for his speed and offensive touch, Kristo brings a bit of flare to the Habs' organizational depth, though the largest knock on him is that he needs to improve his defensive game. Reports indicate that his two-way play has gotten a lot better, but there are still some concerns. His size may also be a factor, but if the Canadiens have proved anything over the past number of years, it's that they're always willing to give the little guys a chance.
For his efforts, Kristo finds himself third in NCAA Division 1 scoring, and TSN.ca's NCAA Player Rankings has him listed at sixth. Also on the list, listed 93rd, is fellow Habs prospect - and North Dakota teammate - Mark MacMillan.
- David Collins
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