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Kristo A Welcome Addition To Pens’ Lineup

November 23, 2016 GMT

WILKES-BARRE — Danny Kristo had some idea that his time in Chicago with the Wolves was nearing an end. As a result, the 26-year-old forward spent his last few days with the St. Louis Blues organization playing back in his mind the list of teams that had shown interest in his services this past offseason. One of the organizations that Kristo came closest to signing with was Pittsburgh, which would have had him slated to begin the year in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with a former college teammate in Carter Rowney. The two played together for four years at the University of North Dakota, where they helped the team win three WCHA titles. Still in contact regularly, the two had discussed the prospect of Kristo joining the Penguins earlier in the week. So, when the official word came that Kristo had been dealt to Pittsburgh in exchange for defenseman Reid McNeill on Saturday, Kristo scrolled though the recent calls list in his phone. “Carter was actually the first call I made, right away.” Kristo said with a laugh. “And then I called my parents.” Kristo’s arrival in town comes at a good time for the Penguins, who are without points leader Jake Guentzel after he was promoted to Pittsburgh on Monday. “I consider myself a goal scorer and a shooter,” Kristo said. “I think I’ve proved that at this level for a couple years in a row. Right off the bat, I just think that I’m going to go out there and work hard and keep it simple and try to establish a role on this team and just go from there.” Kristo arrived in town with many of the stigmas that tend to follow early-round draft picks (he was selected 56th overall in 2008) who have played for several organizations (Canadiens, Rangers, Blues) but are still yet to make their NHL debuts. After an uncharacteristically slow start to the year, which has seen him record just two assists over eight games with Chicago, the change of scenery has a chance to do Kristo a world of good. “We don’t know what went on in Chicago,” Penguins coach Clark Donatelli said. “We only care about what he’s going to do here. He has a fresh start and a fresh pair of eyes on him that haven’t made any decisions on him whatsoever, so we’re looking to see what he can do.” On Sunday, Kristo dropped off his bags in the guest room in Rowney’s house, where he will be staying until he can find a more permanent place of his own. “He was my classmate so we’ve always stayed (close),” Rowney said. “It was kind of weird when I heard that he was coming here and that (we’re) on the same team (again). It just kind of felt like he was just coming to visit when he stayed at my house the other night, so it’s weird to see him in the locker room. But, I’m excited to have him and he’s really excited to get a fresh start here and he’s ready to go.” According to Rowney, he and Kristo only skated a handful of shifts together over their four years at North Dakota. Based on the Penguins lines at practice over the last two days, that looks like it might be about to change, with Kristo sliding into Guentzel’s open slot on the top line with Tom Kostopoulos and Rowney. “Obviously, we’re so close that I know exactly how (Rowney) plays,” Kristo said. “I know that he goes to the tough areas and that he’s a really good two-way centerman and he’ll help make this transition a lot easier for me. I think he’s going to help make this a great opportunity for me.” slakso@citizensvoice.com 570-821-2083, @CVSethLakso

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