The summer before his senior season at the University of North Dakota Danny Kristo had a decision to make.

Return to school to close out a college career that had seen equal parts success and adversity or leave to begin his pro career with the Montreal Canadiens. With Montreal entering a transitional summer during which it replaced its general manager and coaching staff Kristo made the decision to go back to school.

A year later Kristo is coming off a great individual seasons and is facing a prime opportunity to help the New York Rangers who traded for the Minnesota native during the summer. The second-round pick (No. 56) of the Canadiens in 2008 enjoyed a monster senior season at North Dakota.

His 52 points were the second-highest total in the NCAA and the forward was named a first-team All-American. The Fighting Sioux were upset in the second round of the NCAA tournament by eventual champions Yale but Kristo completed his season with a bronze medal playing for Team USA at the IIHF World Championship.

Kristo seemed poised to enjoy a first pro season with either Montreal or Hamilton in the American Hockey League when he was traded on July 2 for Christian Thomas. It was a unique twist that could turn the spotlight squarely on the 23-year-old forward.
"You never expect that especially with me just signing with Montreal. It was a shock but it's kind of a good thing to get traded. It means a team really wants you" Kristo told NHL.com. "[The Rangers] said they had some scouts out in Finland when I was playing [in the World Championship]. They said I was on their radar since I got drafted by Montreal. I have just got to go into training camp and work hard and do whatever I can to make the team."

On paper Kristo's quest to make the Rangers' roster for opening night seems tough. After all the team has enjoyed quality depth up front for the past several seasons. But with captain Ryan Callahan still rehabbing following offseason shoulder surgery there could be an opening on the depth chart entering the 2013-14 season. It's a spot the Rangers front office sees Kristo potentially filling.