In the second trade involving NHL players in the 2015-16 season and second in as many days, the Montreal Canadiens and Arizona Coyotes have swapped Christian Thomas and Lucas Lessio, the teams announced on Tuesday.
The Coyotes pick up Thomas, who has put up a pair of assists in five games with the Habs this season. The 23-year-old picked up a goal and no assists through 18 NHL games last season.
He has a lot of skill and speed, but at just 5 foot 9, plays a game that isn’t particularly physical. His lack of physicality and occasionally shying away from the dirty places of the offensive zone has long been a knock on his game.
Nonetheless, he has lit up the AHL this season, posting seven goals and 14 assists in 18 games for the St. John’s IceCaps. He grabbed 11 goals and 22 assists through 52 games last season. So, the Coyotes are picking up a young forward with the ability to step right into the NHL lineup, but who is still developing and has some upside. They also have a player in Thomas who, if he’s in the AHL, can bring some scoring punch and be a nice compliment for their prospects in Springfield.
Thomas was a 2nd round pick by the New York Rangers in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
The Habs, a contender now, give up a player who hasn’t been particularly effective for a deeper roster this year or last. In exchange they get the 22-year-old Lessio who has put up seven goals and 12 assists through 24 AHL games this season.
If the Habs rate Lessio and Thomas near the same level, they get a player who can compliment their current roster a little better in Lessio. A 2nd round pick in 2011, he has skill, but more so than Thomas, brings size and a power forward’s game, coming in a 6 foot 1, 212 pounds.
Montreal has already assigned Lessio to the AHL, according to TVA’s Renaud Lavoie.