Washington Capitals prospect Andrew Cristall has opened up his CHL season on a tear.
Playing for the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League, Cristall has eight goals and 26 points in 11 games so far in 2023-24.
The 2023 second-round pick made a strong case to make the Capitals’ roster but was sent back to junior ahead of the team’s final preseason cuts.
“He’s not the biggest guy, obviously he needs to — like a lot of guys his age — get stronger and do a lot of work in the gym to get himself a little bit stronger on his skates,” Ross Mahoney, the Capitals assistant general manager, said at the draft. “But [a] really, really good player.”
Cristall could very well have been a steal for the Capitals who sat and watched as he remained on the board until they selected him with the 40th pick in the 2023 NHL Draft.
And he is proving it so far this season.
He is playing on a line with Tij Iginla, son of NHL legend Jarome Iginla and likely top prospect in the 2024 NHL Draft, who has 13 goals and 21 points in 12 games.
It has formed one of the most fun lines to watch — and bet on — in the CHL.
You can find the odds here at the best betting sites ontario has to offer.
Cristall’s Kelowna Rockets have looked like one of the strongest teams in the CHL so far.
They are third in the WHL’s Western Conference with a 7-4-1 record.
The Prince George Cougars lead the conference at 9-3-0 while the Portland Winterhawks are in second at 8-1-0.
Eastern Conference leaders Lethbridge Hurricanes (8-5-1) and Saskatoon Blades (8-3-0) are also contenders to win the WHL and earn a berth in the Memorial Cup.
Cristall will be an interesting watch for Capitals fans, though.
Washington is a team in transition that needs scoring from young players and 18-year-old Cristall will be able to bring that soon.
Cristall certainly showed that last season, scoring 95 points — 39 goals, 56 assists — in 54 games played.
“I’d say I’m a highly-skilled offensive player,” Cristall said after getting drafted by the Capitals. “I can produce at a high-rate and I like to bring people out of their seats and, most importantly, win hockey games.