The Kid is (More Than) Alright

Draft day, as I touched on in my post in the week leading up to it, is a weird one. Although the Rangers wound up not trading any roster players (they might eventually this summer, however), it’s still an interesting mix of excitement, nervous anticipation, more excitement, and a general posture towards the future. On the one hand we’re fueled by a desire to see our team do the best they can do and make smart decisions, and on the other there’s the simple joy of watching teenagers hug their moms, put on those jerseys, and embark on the journey of a lifetime.

There’s a certain tearing between the “name on the front of the jersey/name on the back” dynamics in that sometimes, as some of us find ourselves upset that the wrong kid is going to wind up on our preferred hockey team years down the road. I realize that’s reductionist to a certain extent, and that there’s a lot more to it, but I think it bears repeating: this is only a game, and these are just kids. Grown men audibly screaming the F Bomb in a crowded theater filled with children underscores how serious some people take the draft, despite the cloak of agnosticism that hangs over all of it. We simply don’t know how things are going to pan out, so let’s not scream obscenities or get into Twitter fights about it quite yet, OK?

Not unlike the almost immediate controversy that sprung up around Lias Andersson’s selection at last year’s draft, the picking of Vitali Kravtsov to be a future New York Ranger has rankled some, particularly given that Oliver Wahlstrom, a widely regarded top-notch goalscorer, was right there on the board and was instead sent to the Islanders. To those Wahlstrom boosters this is yet another sign that the Rangers brass have no idea what they’re doing, that the rebuild is going to stall, and that we’ll never see a Stanley Cup again (this too is reductionism and perhaps a bit of a strawman fallacy, but you’d be surprised at how upset some people are about this whole thing). Given the apocalyptic tone of the folks who didn’t want Kravtsov to be our number 9 pick, and given the often overly bright optimism on the part of certain bloggers (mostly just talking about myself here), I figured it’d be worth doing some more level headed analysis of things.

Below you’ll find a chart that I made for myself in the preliminary stages of writing this post using data from Elite Prospects that I then realized would probably just be better to share. I’ve got the name, age, team and league of each of Vitali Kravtsov, Evgeni Kuznetsov, and Pavel Buchnevich followed by their games played for each team listed, their goals/assists, and how many points per game that calculates out to. This chart spans each player’s 16/17 year old season to their 18/19 year old season; Kuznetsov and Buch each stayed longer in Russia than Kravtsov, who says he plans on coming over to North America following the expiration of his KHL contract a year from now (although he has the option to buy out the remainder of it, which he presumably would do on the off chance that he makes the big team out of camp), most likely will.

Apologies for my handwriting, the use of whiteout, and whatever calculation errors may be in there (I don’t think there are any, but if you catch one be sure to throw out everything I’m saying, or just mention it in the comments, whichever you prefer is fine with me). Also, please note that I included playoff games/points in with the regular season, and that I was going to do NHLe equivalencies but opted not to (I’ll get to that shortly). All of this will be elaborated upon further, I promise.

So the first big takeaway here, to me at least, is that young Russian players get bounced around a lot between various teams in their system over there. This isn’t all that crazy, but just something worth noting for context – the most games Kravtsov played with any one team was 51, while it was 44 for Kuznetsov and 55 for Buchnevich. Accordingly the numbers vary quite a bit as well, both because of the obvious changes in level of competition and the more low-key fact that it’s hard to get into a rhythm, find chemistry with line mates, and so on when you’re constantly being shuffled around.

Still, this is all for your purposes of comparison; what I would say is that broadly, Kravtsov seems to be tracking somewhere between Kuznetsov and Buchnevich, and while we obviously would all prefer more of the former than the latter it’s not bad company one way or another.

Now, for some background, there’s a great article on Elite Prospects that expands on what’s gone on behind the scenes of Kravtsov’s development, with the most important bit being his wrist injury. That injury kept him out of the action for seven weeks and put a damper on the end of his club season, but he quickly rebounded in the playoffs, notching 6 goals and 11 points in 16 games, and finding his way onto Bob McKenzie’s list at 12 with a notable mention of one scout out of the ten polled by TSN who had Kravtsov in the top 5 of his draft board.

Now, to address the Wahlstrom issue head on, I’m going to lean on the tool developed by our very own Josh Khalfin to illustrate my point that Vitali Kravtsov is going to be more than fine on the New York Rangers. Below you can find a screenshot of Oliver Wahlstrom’s profile from Josh’s Tableau,

And Vitali Kravtsov’s…

These two charts have an NHLe equivalency component that lists Wahlstrom at 34.03 points and Kravtsov at 24.24, but this, like all things, requires context. Wahlstrom was playing for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program (he’s committed to BC next season), while Kravtsov was playing in the second best pro league in the world. Another gigantic caveat is that Wahlstrom has many more data points involved in this calculation than Kravtsov, and at one point Wahlstrom’s points per game translated to an NHLe of 26.09 (you can’t get the individual NHLe data points on the image I don’t think, but if you go over to Josh’s Tableau and hover your mouse over the individual data points it shows).

Most stat heads would also tell you that NHLe, especially for young players is inherently fraught, so I’ll end this component of my argument with this: suppose Kravtsov didn’t have a wrist injury that kept him out for 7 weeks and lingered beyond that, suppose he played in a program specifically designed to develop young players instead of a pro league where he’s fighting for a spot among men (as you can imagine, he wasn’t on the top line in Chelyabinsk), and suppose Wahlstrom were in Kravtsov’s shoes instead – would we be having this same conversation about what a huge mistake the Rangers made by taking Kravtsov over Wahlstrom?

Let’s even take a looser, less counterfactual position – if Kravtsov had as much data to input into an already imperfect equalizer as Wahlstrom did, is it at least possible that they’d have closer point totals and be considered more comparable?

So here’s what I’m saying: Vitali Kravtsov is going to be more than just alright. His ceiling is sky high, so we may be all kicking ourselves for ever freaking out about how the Rangers passed on Wahlstrom in three years when our 2018 9th overall pick wins the Rocket Richard (ok, maybe that’s a bit hyperbolic). At minimum, he’s an NHLer that you can build around, just like how you’d build around Oliver Wahlstrom, and at the end of the day, given how widely hockey varies and the amount of chance and other mitigating factors at play in determining who winds up hoisting the Stanley Cup, it’s really not worth getting worked up about.

I could also get into the irony of a fanbase that refers to itself as “the Garden Faithful” going bonkers over the selection of one high-quality teenage scoring talent instead of another high-quality teenage scoring talent, but I’ll save that for another day. For now, I’ll just leave you with this video of some Kravtsov highlights, and this news that broke on Twitter as I was writing this. Happy Tuesday, everyone.

"The Kid is (More Than) Alright", 5 out of 5 based on 22 ratings.
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  1. I think people do not dislike Kravtsov, it was just that Wallstrom’s name was bandied about so much that it was like a gift from heaven, just sitting there for us. Finally, a player we covet (the fans obviously, not the GM) falls into our laps, and we bypass him for a little known Russian kid. The kid will be good, but he didn’t get the pre-draft hype Wallstrom did,

    1. I agree. Before the draft a poster here (Richter1994?) asked if Walhstrom and Boqvist were available at #9, should we trade with Edmonton to get their #10 in addition to #9. A lot of posters thought more of Dobson than Boqvist, so the reactions to that question would have been more positive if he included Dobson instead. Not only were Walhstrom and Dobson available to the Rangers, they both fell to the Islanders who grabbed them. I’ll admit my enthusiasm was ripped away that evening.

      Kravtsov was not likely talked about because he has one year remaining on his KHL contact. Russians are either drafted #1 overall or later than their talent level projects them because they can stay home in the KHL. It is clear the Rangers believe that Kravtsov is someone who would have been a top 5 player if he was playing Juniors in North America.

      2019: The year of the Russian Invasion: Shestyorkin, Rykov, and Kravtsov.

      1. Let’s not forget there’s some bias against Russian players in the media, especially in Canada. Some of it is making sure N. American writers pump up N. American players (that helps preserves the writer’s relationship with N. American coaches and player agents). And some of it is because NHL teams in smaller cities are always afraid that they can’t entice a Russian to come to town.

      2. Detroit selects Zadina…people say wow….how lucky
        People clobber the Coyotes for drafting Hayton

        Well we did both but more what the Coyotes did

        I studied the draft and did study Kravtsov and soon realized the kid was gonna go much higher than mid to late 20’s…Yes I was thinking of him with 26 or 28 initially but realized he was going 10 to 16 more likely.

        Then we did Zadina….Wahlstrom was a need and a great pick, Dobson / Bouchard was a need and great picks instead we draft a leftie that would’ve been there at 13 is debatable…I can see him not being there as well….So Rangers got cute yet they didn’t get cute and drafted who they wanted.

        I liked Kravtsov but loved Wahlstrom.

        Then the draft fell apart. We need forwards but selected 2 Defensemen one giving up a 2nd for….horrible. Bokk was more of a fit, Veleno at 28 is incredible value. Wilde not getting selected over Lindbolm??? WTF

        Wilde will be better than Miller…we will talk about this in 5 years so hopefully we are all still in contact. Kravtsov vs Wahlstrom….you want goals….Wahlstrom wins…you want Kreider like then we win. I wanted a righty elite shot….2 on the roster with 7 prospects in our forward group…..not good

        Seriously Miller was dreadful at the U 18…is he a bad selection….depends….no…for Rangers Bokk was more important.

        You have to meet needs as well. We did not, not one pick met a need, we did build depth though….yippie to that. We need depth

        As it stands, there has to be something we are not seeing…ie a real hockey trade if this does not occur then the draft was an utter wasted opportunity.

        Some will defend Clark….I want him fired now. I am not on board with his vision.

        1. Leather, what is stopping the Rangers from taking all of these D men they are compiling and swapping a pair of them in a couple years for a young, stud forward?

          Drafting for need is never a good idea and it’s how the Rangers ended up with McIlrath. Always take the best player available and if you end up overstocking a position, you can always make trades later on.

        2. In defense of the Coyotes, Hayton will be their swiss army knife center, that’s not a bad selection. 3rd line center of quality. Not glamorous when Zadina is there but a hockey team has to have role players too

          1. Yet Andersson over Mittlestadt at #7 has left you furious?

            Isn’t that the same thing, except the Coyotes were at 5 not 7?

            1. No

              Andersson could have been had 7 to 13, Rangers could’ve traded 7 and still got him. That’s what I didn’t like

              Let’s be honest…Middlestat is going to be statistically better than Andersson, I love the fact Andersson tossed his medal into the stands.

              1. My pick would’ve been Tippett

                but now I am happy with Andersson…still prefer Tippett,

              2. This whole “trade down” argument is hypothetical and what they call hindsight bias.

                It is foolhardy to flippantly suggest that all Gorton and team had to do was simply trade down. What team would have traded up with the talent still left on the board after the 8th selection? The answer is none. Period. Why? Because the cost would have been too great with said talent still left on the board.

                So they took the guy they wanted when they wanted and went about their business instead of trying to finagle another team to race up a couple of spots only to draft guys that were still on the board after the 8th selection. It wasn’t the first rodeo the new Isles GM has been to….

                We need to celebrate the fact we actually have first round talent vs a couple of years ago when a 3rd round pick was our 1st of the draft. Splitting hairs between some blowhard’s subjective prospect ratings between 9th and 12th is a waste of energy. Whether a guys shoots left or right will matter naught when he is putting pucks in the net.

        3. I wanted Wahlstrom. I was very excited that he fell to us and disappointed when we passed.

          It is difficult for me to get terribly upset over a draft pick. I used to write NFL draft previews for a website about 15 years ago. I had a good enough following that I was spoken about (I got internet fame when I mentioned that Ryan Leaf was going to be a monumental bust. I was an idiot in 1998 and a genius in 2001). There are a lot of things that even “experts” don’t know about these players (one of the things I picked up on was that Leaf was an immature idiot). It is illegal to talk about medical issues without the player’s consent and end up saying “injury issues”. You can get sued for talking about character issues.

          When you hear things like someone concerned about a players hustle, that’s a HUGE red flag. One thing I’ve learned about players whose motor is in question is that a tiger cannot change his stripes. Players who do not hustle tend to underachieve in their careers IF that question is legitimate. They don’t suddenly develop a work ethic because there’s a paycheck in it.

    2. This is why we needed to add a draft pick via a trade to get #10 also. We could have taken him or even Dobson/Bouchard

        1. lots of options….trade both lower 1’s for #10..
          trade a lower 1st plus Spooner or Vlad..
          trade a #1 of next year..
          get that #10, then trade both 2nd’s to get back into the 1st round so you still end up with 3 picks in the 1st round including 9th and 10th picks. This was mismanaged i really do believe.

  2. Any time a 17yr old can take a regular shift in a men’s league, especially considering how well Traktor did, sorta rates better than riding shotgun with the #1 pick in 2019.

    Both are going to be good players, but I’ll wager 400 quatloos that Kravtsov gets to the show sooner and does better.

    As apprised to Boqvist, who couldn’t do squat against men at 2 levels.

    1. Nope, I’ll bet the entire crew of the Enterprise that Wahlstrom gets here sooner and does better.

      1. Why are you so certain about Wahlstrom? Also, Wahlstrom is going to college, possibly for 4 years, so there is almost zero chance he beats Kravtsov to the NHL.

        I keep hearing he’s slow and has a low motor. Those are massive red flags and hint that the kid is getting by on his A++ release and size. I think others that follow prospects more closely than I will back me up and say that those types of players are prone to stumbling badly or washing out completely once they hit pro hockey.

        With Kravtsov we know he has already faced men, men that sometimes outweigh him by 60 pounds, and doing that, he still managed to have a successful playoff run a few months ago. Those are massively encouraging signs.

        I get that we all fall in love with prospects, especially in a year like this where we had lots of time to focus and home in on certain players. But we (fans) don’t know anything. We get a fraction of the info the team execs have at their hands. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have an opinion, but we shouldn’t lose our minds over it and assume everything is ruined. Be patient and let things play out.

  3. To further put things into context, the Wally-Hughes-Farabee line is like pitting men against boys.

    Wally is great, don’t get me wrong, but it will be interesting to see how he does away from Hughes, who is projected to be the #1 overall pick next year.

    1. Wahlstrom will be spoken of more….Bossy like, Kravtsov is a Kreider type. Power forward I like both players but we need righties who can put the puck in the net.

      1. Interesting comparison. You see Wahlstrom as a Bossy type? If that’s true, I’m happy the Rangers didn’t take him. That type of player is a dinosaur and has no place in the NHL these days.

        The thing that made Mike Bossy great was the 50 foot slapper from the boards. Nowadays, those shots are meat and potatoes for even junior level goalies. Mike Bossy would be an AHL fringe player today. If you can’t skate well, you can’t play in the NHL, and definitely not a high level.

        Think of how many NHL forwards are actually known for their shot these days. The only 3 I can think of are Ovi, Laine, and Forsberg. Two of those guys are complete players, the other is 20 years old.

        1. Ok…let’s just toss out a hall of famer sniper who scored 50 goals in every year he literally played, what would it look like had he been on the Rangers instead of the Islanders?
          We win in 79?
          Islanders go on a record 19 playoff series wins? 4 cups 5 SCF appearances?
          Well fact is the Islanders did with Bossy. That is all that matters, facts, results

          Give me Wahlstrom

            1. I’m implying, Leather, that Bossy wouldn’t be a 50 goal scorer today.

              He’d be a fringe AHLer that is nothing more than a perimeter player. Shooters aren’t worth all that much in the NHL, goalies are too good now. It’s more important to have complete forwards that can control play and generate quality scoring chances.

              1. Cheers….understood Chris A

                I can’t speculate on that, What I do know is the early 80’s Rangers couldn’t get past the Islanders and had they they had a great chance/odds to win the cup.

                Bossy was instrumental in that and one can imagine based on his results what if he was a Ranger over Deblois.

              2. I agree with you there. Of course Mike Bossy makes a monumental difference in the fates of the early 80s Rangers and Islanders.

                But that fact has zero to do with Wahlstorm/Kravstov.

      2. Kreider? I have seen some of the moves that Krav has made and there is no way that CK is capable of such moves.

        Krav has size, but plays like a smaller and nimble player. THAT’s what makes him special.

        1. He is Kreider like, Kreider was neutered by AV
          Kreider will be a beast this year

          Yes I like Kravtsov….am i not being clear on that?
          My thing is we have to meet needs too…We need a scorer that is a rightie…Wahlstrom fit that

          1. Rather grab the better player than the one trick pony — not that I think Wahlstrom wouldn’t have been a good pick.

            Rangers seemed very focused on Krav’s smarts.

            1. If you listen to, Gorton, he has said from the beginning that he is looking for speed, skill, smarts and character, and he believes all the picks meet these needs. What’s to argue about? We don’t know what they know. I’m all in on this draft and the direction the team is taking! It is different, what we all have been screaming about for years. It is way too early for us to evaluate what we have clamored for…Let’s Go Rangers! To the CUP!!!

          2. Bro, there is zero chance that Kreider has the hands that Krav has. Zero.

            If he did, the CK is a annual 40 goal scorer.

            I like to blame AV too, but you’re off base about CK’s skill level. Doesn’t mean that he won’t be a beast this year, but he’s not on the skill level of Krav, or even Chytil for that matter.

              1. The absurdity of naming Kravtsov the savior is only equaled by your insistence that Wahlstrom would have been the savior.

            1. Love or hate AV, Kreider was the same player under Torts.

              Physical gifts players would kill for. Hands of stone. Ability to physically and through speed to control a game but would often disappear for lengths of time.

              Certain nights he looks like an all star. Other night you see a player that maxes out at 25-30goals a season.

              Same thing under AV and Torts. Same player.

              1. Yeah, at this point it is up to CK to take the next step.

                No more excuses, same for Buch.

  4. I was digging into this all freaking weekend trying to justify this to myself. question you have to ask, is if wahlstrom is compared to laine why is he not considered a top pick? pronman has him in his very good prospect category – outside the high end and dahlin categories.

    seems like wahlstrom comes with a few catches: 1) pronman in his predraft notes kept writing that ” played it slow” a lot. even wrote that in his isles draft analysis. so I followed up with him on that – and he said some scouts don’t like his “hustle”.
    watching his shift to shift film u can see what he means. he kind of waits for something to happen someone to get him the puck to shoot. 2) how much of his success is because of playing with the dynamic hughes duo? 3) just me in my amateur analysis: kravtsov skating is much better than wally’s. could pose issues at pro level in transition/defensive game.

    so you are basically drafting wahlstrom at 9 for his shot. better have someone who can get it to him.

    maybe this is all me in denial. im gonna give the Russian a chance.

    1. Well said!

      Sometimes we focus too much on production in developmental leagues when we should really look at process, or how a player actually plays. It seems like Wahlstrom is all production and little process. That sounds like a guy tailor made to be a massive bust in the pro game.

      Let’s not forget that there is a very long list of players that averaged over a point per game in developmental leagues that never even made it to the NHL because once they faced bigger and stronger players they couldn’t hack it.

  5. Let’s see what Kratsov can do on the ice betore we pass judgement. First step is prying him out of Russia.

  6. Idk…. the draft was similar to the trade deadline to me. It just felt underwhelming and we just did “ok.” Not bad or horrible or anything. But I think we all felt it could’ve gone better, and that’s why we keep seeing articles trying to convince the fan base that they did well. Not nearly as horrible as Jessiman or McIlrath. But it did feel kind of like picking Del Zotto when John Carlson was sitting right there as the obvious choice. And I read similar articles back then too about how he grew up w/Tavares and Stamkos and only fell because of this and that and should have been ranked higher than he was. Blah!

    The NYR brass want you to believe they have some secret formula to this. They don’t. They seem to consistently over-rank some sort of intangible x-factor that makes them hedge when they have a high pick or even when they have leverage in a trade. JG seems to settle for a little bit less on everything and then try to convince us it’s all one big master plan. We’ll see…

    I will gladly eat a huge humble pie on the way to the Cup parade if I’m wrong here. But the fact is if we ended up with the top picks the Isles got, we’d be beside ourselves and essentially glowing at this point. You know that’s true.

    1. What people seem to forget is that they gave us a decade of play where we were one of the best teams in the League — emphasis on the word team. Maybe that X factor is that they know how to put together a TEAM as opposed to just drafting the most talented players and putting them together.

    2. There seems to be a pattern developing under Gorton’s regime to launch guys up the internal draft board ranks based on a recent tournament/playoffs performance in their respective leagues. Kravstov had a solid KHL playoffs for sure, and KHL rookie of they year also is nothing to scoff, so hopefully Gorton is on to something with this approach. Most of the draft grades I’ve seen give the Rangers an A or B grade…but it’s Miller they are noting as the main draw, not Kravstov. Fair or not, that’s what seems to be out there. I was a little irked initially that it was another apparent reach for Kravstov, frankly. Even if not a completely off the board reach, well…the article above does show that really only one named and respected ranker out there had him near the top ten.

      Kravstov is more of a swing for the fences than Andersson though, for sure, in terms of going for projected potential ceiling. Ideally you’d have liked to get Miller naturally rather than trading up, but like Andersson last year, seems as though Gorton had cause to be looking over his shoulder, and Miller is one hell of a specimen that surely had multiple teams in the mid round range hoping to make a steal with him. I don’t know much about Lundkvist – seems to me he is kinda like the defensive version of Andersson, solid and reliable two-way, but not exactly going to put together much of a dazling highlight reel with his work to date. Still sifting through the rest of the picks. To me, Gorton went a little Neapolitan ice cream with the first round – a little of everything in there.

      Right now, you’re absolutely correct that Lou and Co. have stolen Gorton’s lunch in terms of initial reaction. They got two of the bigger names out there, so that’s par for the course. Time shall tell, however. Hopefully Gorton will be the one smiling in a couple years’ time. I’m fine with this draft, although it didn’t knock my socks off – I think the trade deadline comparison is apt in that regard.

      1. Seems somebody had him ranked #5, another at 12 …

        I think Lundkvist might surprise some people … again, another kid (17 year old) who played against MEN.

        1. The person who had him at 5 seems to be some sort of writer, although not named. McKenzie at 12 was, as I said, the only notable named ranker to have him that near the top ten as I am aware. There’s a reason Pat can’t point to a lot of sources having him above 15 – the vast majority did not. Again, I don’t see them as going straight off the board here…but it was a reach compared to overall consensus from the many writers and talking heads who get paid to pour a lot of time, energy, and research into the draft.

          1. Tell you what I would be more interested to see and that’s the 31 lists from the NHL teams — those are the only lists that really count when you’re drafting. Now I did hear that there was one other team that had the kid ranked higher than 9 — there may have been others as well.

            Then there’s always the issue of when prognosticators saw a kid play, how many times they saw him play, etc. Drafting is 2 parts science and 1 part art (or however you might want to break the %s down) … point is, drafting isn’t just scientific and quantifiable. I can think of tons of players who will be on one team’s list and not on another’s — that is especially true with kids rated in the middle to late rounds … but it can also apply to 1st rounders. One teams mid to late 1st rounder can be a 3rd or 4th rounder on someone else’s list.

            I remember when Chris Drury got drafted in the 3rd round (#72) … another kid going to Boston U, Jeff Kealty (a big d’man) was picked #22 in the 1st round. A local scout out of the Boston area came up to me during the 5th round and asked me what I thought of the draft so far. I said that the Kealty and Drury picks should have been reversed. He kind of chuckled and said “nah” … well 4 years later out of college and Drury is in the NHL having a great rookie season and Kealty is playing in the minors. I have no doubt Kealty would have eventually made it to the NHL, an injury derailed him in 2nd year pro, but he would have never had the impact on the game that Drury had. That’s DRAFTING in a nutshell.

            1. I think we’d all love to see the NHL internal boards. Rumor has it the Rangers may have had Kravstov below only Svechnikov for F ranks, though. If that’s the case…not sure we’d see a lot of lists that looked like ours.

              1. I will bet every team had a different top 10 list once you got past Dahlin and Svechnikov. Just the fact that Kotkaniemi went at 3, Tkachuk at 4 and Hayton at 5 kind of proves the point.

          2. I think, Gorton, et al, also get paid fairly well to figure this out!

            Talking heads..please!!

            1. Eh; teams fall in love with players just the same as regular fans. I don’t think you need me to provide examples of GMs doing shit that writers/talking heads said was crazy, and sure enough, the shit in question ended up being crazy. To hold a position does not automatically mean you are the best at it. A fair amount of the writers/talking heads probably have their inside sources as well, to note. They obviously aren’t going to out them to justify their mock drafts.

              1. I guess I was just talking about loving the new direction of the management team. Like it or not, they are the Rangers Mgmt., and I’d rather root for the new strategy all the way to the CUP, then be filled with doom and gloom about the future. That’s me, a half-full, retired type of guy!

    3. There were 6 picks between MDZ and Carlson (with only Eberle being arguably better), so maybe he wasn’t the OBVIOUS choice … and if he was so obvious at pick #20 then he should have been the obvious choice over Joe Colborne, Jake Gardiner, Luca Sbisa and Chet Pickard — all guys taken after Karlsson and before MDZ.

      That’s the benefit of hindsight …

  7. So according to the formula Wahlstrom is literally twice as likely to become a star in the NHL, and you’re wondering why fans are upset?

        1. That’s good data to bring up. It brings a good discussion to the table of looking at Kravtsov’s playoff numbers, and if they should be added to the equation.

      1. Looks like your comment system eats external URLs, so I have cut and paste:
        This is a list of 18 year old scorers in KHL, that shows that Kravtsov doesn’t belong in the conversation with stars like Kuznetzov and Tarasenko and even Buchnevich:
        Rank Name Year Games Goals Assists Points PPG
        1 Eeli Tolvanen 1999 F 49 19 17 36 28 0.735
        2 Evgeny Kuznetsov 1992 F 44 17 15 32 30 0.727
        3 Kirill Kaprizov 1997 F 53 11 16 27 10 0.509
        4 Vladimir Tarasenko 1991 F 42 13 11 24 18 0.571
        5 Pavel Buchnevich 1995 F 40 7 11 18 12 0.45
        6 Alexander Polunin 1997 F 25 7 5 12 16 0.48
        7 Damir Zhafyarov 1994 F 41 5 6 11 6 0.268
        8 Anton Slepyshev 1994 F 26 7 2 9 4 0.346
        9 Vladislav Kamenev 1996 F 41 6 3 9 10 0.22
        10 Jaroslav Kosov 1993 F 27 4 5 9 6 0.333
        11 Alexander Avtsyn 1991 F 30 3 6 9 10 0.3
        12 Artemi Panarin 1991 F 20 1 8 9 16 0.45
        13 Zakhar Arzamastsev 1992 D 47 3 5 8 6 0.17
        14 Dmitry Orlov 1991 D 41 4 3 7 49 0.171
        15 Vitaly Kravtsov 1999 F 35 4 3 7 6 0.2
        16 Marko Dano 1994 F 37 3 4 7 26 0.189

        1. This is a list of 18 year old scorers in KHL, that shows that Panarin doesn’t belong in the conversation with stars like Kuznetzov and Tarasenko and even Buchnevich.

          Blindly looking at numbers is absolutely moronic. There’s no context here, AT ALL. Take a lap dude, and take it easy with the sass on Dave, he works his ass off to give us something to argue about on internet message boards.

          1. First my apologies to Dave, who is not the author of this article.

            To Dave, yeah, I knew someone will bring up Panarin. However, and this is the point I’ve been trying to hammer on these boards for the last three days, is look at the odds. Near the top of this scoreboard, are superstars and stars and potential stars (Kaprizov). Below Buchnevich there is Panarin, Orlov and a bunch of nobodies.

            Kravtsov may end up being a star. We don’t yet know. Wahlstrom may flop. We don’t yet know. However, the odds of Wahlstrom being a star are much better than Kravtsov being a star, according to statistical models and scouts opinions.

            Just talking about first and second round picks, they reached in 2011 for J.T. Miller (who was ranked near the bottom of the first round) and succeeded. They picked Skjei right where he was ranked in 2012 and succeeded. They reached on Halverson – so far looks like a failure. They reached by at least a round on Gropp – and so far doesn’t look good. They reached on Andersson by most opinions, and I believe Mittelstadt is going to make them look silly as early as this year.

            I believe it’s time to stop trying to be smarter than everybody in the NHL (well, not everybody. Hayton at 5 over Zadina, Wahlstrom, Dobson et al. was worse).

            1. Jeff what you’re not taking into account is that the kid played the season on the bottom 6 in a defensive role. When he got bumped up to the 2nd line, when he got a little more ice time and was put in a position to score … HE DID — and during the playoffs when everybody raises their game. Guys like Kuznetsov, Tolvanen, Tarasenko, etc. were put in a position to succeed offensively from the get-go.

              Furthermore some of the kids on the list didn’t have the physical attributes to succeed in the NHL (to handle the more physical nature of the game).

              … and that’s what scouting 17-18 year olds is all about, adjusting for variances in circumstance and projecting how their game will translate — it isn’t about NUMBERS because if it was, then drafting players would be so easy.

              1. Ugh. I’m not arguing numbers. I am arguing scout consensus vs one organisation’s spotty recent record.

                A few years ago on this site there was a cheeky article on how a potato outdrafted the Rangers over a 10 year period. Look it up.
                Dave, I would like to see the same type of exercise but instead of somewhat inflexible potato rules (chl only, no goalies or defense) use best available according to scout consensus. It’s somewhat hard with hockey scouting, because a lot of lists separate out goalies and even more separate European vs American skaters, but it should be possible.

              2. What scout consensus? If you don’t have the lists from the other teams you can’t talk about scout consensus. The NHLs Central Scouting is the consensus of about 25-30 scouts … NHL teams employ a couple of hundred. Even worse is the fact that they use 5-6 scouts to cover Europe and about 20-25 scouts for North America, that’s why rankings can get a bit skewed when you try to merge them all together. The Euro scouts don’t see many North Americans and vice versa … the top scouts for each NHL club make it a point to see everyone that even has a remote chance of going in the top 2 rounds.

                Lastly, there are a lot of scouts in the NHL that are notoriously tight lipped about who they really like. Back in the days when Lou Lamoriello ran the Devils you couldn’t get pry information out of Devil’s scout even if he liked you and your life depended on it. lol

          2. Here’s those 18 yr olds:
            Polunin? Dwarf
            Zhafyarov? Dwarf
            Kamenev: draft+1
            Kosov: draft+1
            Avtsyn: draft +1
            Arzamastev: draft+1

        2. Even when Buch was getting buried with 3rd-4th line minutes at ES for Severstal, he still got quality PP time.

          The same cannot be said for Kravtsov until the playoffs.

        3. Well as it now stands he missed a load of games due to a wrist Injury and then lit it up in the playoff!

        1. Spam monster ate them. If you use the edit function, it automatically gets flagged. I just pushed them through now.

  8. You really, really miss the main point. It’s not “going bonkers over the selection of one high-quality teenage scoring talent instead of another” it’s doing so while not having drafted and kept an all-star forward since the Paleolithic Period. In contrast, how many all-star forwards have we passed over to draft a dud?

      1. McLrath over Tarasenko. Sanguinetti over Giroux. DelZotto over Eberle (even John Carlson) … do I really need to continue?

          1. Interesting comment about whining…..where was this sentiment when McIlrath was here…when everyone and their mothers whined about McIlrath and the passing up on Fowler and Tarasenko?

            Ah the hypocrisy

        1. Bet you we could do that for at one time or another for every team in the League … besides, what has St Louis done? What has Philly accomplished? Oh yeah, and Edmonton?

          It’s not about individual players, it’s about TEAM — and I’ll ask anyone here who has played hockey over the years whether individual talent trumps (sorry) team talent.

        2. This is unfair. In order to pick Kravtsov, the Rangers needed to bypass Wahlstrom, Bouchard, Dobson. But to pick one of those three guys, he would have had to bypass the other two. And there are more choices. Chances are you usually don’t get the best guy available – it’s just too hard.

          For a fair comparison, one must compare each choice to one other player. The easiest test is to match every Ranger pick with the guy selected immediately after him. A better but harder test is to match each with the board consensus pick at the time.

      2. But aren’t you basically saying the opposite Dave?
        That Kravtsov will be better than Wahlstrom? That’s what I am getting or you are defending Clark….Just saying that this is what I am reading

    1. All these errors in judgment and yet we’ve been one of the top 4-5 teams over the last decade.

  9. So, let me see if I have this right. Do you mean to suggest that it’s *possible* that a management staff, filled with executives and scouts who have spent their professional careers evaluating talent, that has personally scouted these prospects by attending their games, watched thousands of hours of tape and have personally interviewed these players and their coaches, MAY know more than a bunch of rank amateurs who have done little more than read hockey blogs, prospect reports and mock drafts all written by others?

    My gast is simply flabbered.

    1. Hey I have been scouting from my computer and these boards for years and I am damded good at it. Still not paid

  10. What it comes down to is it’s all an educated guess. End of the day, we as fans/bloggers/commenters can say all we want about “the right pick”, or whatever that means.

    Despite personally hating the concept of blind faith, as a fan, I think you just have to trust that brass has a plan for this team, and is going to execute. Plans fail sometimes, or they don’t. We won’t know for a long time what this first round (and beyond) does to our franchise that we all love.

    Wahlstrom could become the next Ovechkin, and Kraitsov the next Sanguinetti, or vice versa. Nobody can judge this draft yet, 3-4 years, let’s come back to this thread and then we can talk.

    But for now, I’m ecstatic about the high ceiling potential drafted in the first round this year, Kraitsov and Miller in particular, so let’s just enjoy it while hopefully either losing every single game, or making the playoffs somehow. 10th place, nothing worse.

    Let’s go Rangers!

  11. From what I’ve seen, Kravstov is more creative then Wahlstrom. I’d say the Rangers took a flyer here, gambling that he has more of an upside than Wahlstrom. This is nothing like the McIlrath or Sanguinetti picks. These 2 are both upper level talents, and at this stage of their development, it could go either way, but I don’t think either one is going to be a disappointment.

    1. Now that was the most intelligent assessment of the two. Well said

      Both will be good for different reasons

      Kravtsov is a very good player
      Wahlstrom is a very good player
      Both play different styles and Rangers need what Wahlstrom brings more than Kravtsov. That’s my beef….This was a draft that you could fill a need without losing much to the BPA

      1. Is it possible that the Rangers think you’re wrong and that Wahlstrom won’t be a very good player?

        Wahlstrom seems to be covered in red flags: poor skater, lesser competition, outstanding linemates.

        Let me ask you this … if Wahlstrom was a lefty shot would you still be stunned the Rangers passed over him?

        1. By whom?

          Is that true for Dobson too? Veleno, McLeod, Noel? Wilde?

          I kept saying my 2nd want was Dellandrea….he went 13
          This was a cause of how deep the draft was and to meet need… pointing to the Coyotes. Hayton was not a bad pick by them but because Zadina was available they got hammered.

        2. If Wahlstrom was a leftie….no…I would not be as puzzled or frustrated. Kravtsov and Wahlstrom play two different styles of the game. We have enough lefties who can put the puck in the net, righties we do not.

          That angle, azimuth change switching hands makes a huge difference and eliminates a one dimensional attack

          1. But if you’re drafting for handedness you’re not picking the best player available, you’re drafting based on need.

          2. Assuming all things are equal or even close, yes choose the righty … maybe the Rangers just didn’t feel it was close enough between the two.

            The bottom line is that this draft was DEEP — after the top couple of picks these types of debates were almost inevitable. I’m betting there are people in Chicago unhappy with Boqvist, people in Montreal not really happy with Kotkaniemi, etc. for differing reasons.

            When it comes to drafting there will always be reasons NOT to be happy. It will be so interesting to look at a redraft of this 1st round 5-6 years from now.

            1. Something else to keep an eye on with the Rangers and the draft, K’Andre Miller is the first player drafted in the first 3 rounds by the Rangers to develop in the US since Brady Skjei and Boo Nieves in 2012. Before Skjei the Rangers were pretty busy with US based players, JT Miller, Kreider, Ryan Bourque and Derek Stepan were all picked by the Rangers in the first 3 rounds between 2008-2012 and all came from either HS hockey or the USNTDP.

              Why do I bring this up? Both Mittlestadt and Wahlstrom were highly offensive players that were coming from US based programs (Minn HS and USNTDP, respectively). Maybe the Rangers no longer trust players from those systems with the mixed results from earlier picks? Maybe they feel players from those systems are fool’s gold and the lack of competition inflates their stats?

              Not really sure, but if anyone is looking for a reason why the Rangers snubbed two US based players in consecutive years, maybe that has something to do with it? Of course, the K’Andre Miller pick shoots massive holes in this theory, maybe they drafted Miller simply because the guy is a physical specimen and they trust players that commit to Wisconsin (Stepan, McD and Smith all went to Wisconsin)?

          3. “Both play different styles and Rangers need what Wahlstrom brings more than Kravtsov. That’s my beef….”

            What are the NYR’s needs going to be in 2020-2021? What’s going to be the righty/lefty split on the roster then?

            1. You have a point there….I based mine on a pattern and trend I have seen with Clark. Nothing more nothing less

              85% lefties 15% righties give or take a point or two here or there

          4. It is a good pick when you think about it. The kid is a great skater fast and big. He has great hands. Has great vision and can set up his peers. He has been playing in the second best mens league in the world as a kid.He will also be another Russian to play with and talk too Buch! This might turn into a devastating line!

    2. The Rangers spoke to both players i have to assume. Wahlstrom and Kravstov. Maybe they thought Kravstov had a higher ceiling because of character. As I read somewhere, Kravstov left home to go play hockey when he was 9 years old. He is very motivated to succeed at any cost. We can all say maybe Wahlstrom has this or that problem but maybe Kravstov just had a higher upside in the character department.

  12. thanks for the assessment. It’s helpful. And you make great points. I think both players will be very good. In 20 years we will know who will be better. For now we have Kravtsov so let’s hope he wins. He was ranked 12 so it’s not like we reached down to 50. This pick is a fine pick. It’s just not what we were expecting. To make matter worse the Islanders got our other guy. At least the rivalry can remain strong for the next 15 years with these two.

    Kravtsov as well as Miller have very high ceiling. Maybe a little tiny over reach on both. Maybe we gave up too much with #48 and #26 to Ottawa(by the way, did the pick the #48 ranked guy with the #26 pick?), but when these kids are lighting it up in the NHL a few years from now, will it matter?

    I know this piece is specifically about Kravtsov. And I was not necessarily thrilled with the draft after these 2 picks. (and Nils was ok) But our first 2 draft picks are solid high ceiling players. 1 D man and 1 Forward.

  13. Let’s be honest here. NOBODY has any definitive predictions on whether the kid is gonna’ turn out to be anything! I don’t remember anyone even mentioning this kid as a possible selection at #9. To say anything else is pure speculation and spin. Which is fine! We all want him to be a keeper—I’m sure Clark, more than anybody! But wanting that, and citing stats that lead you to that conclusion—without even seeing the kid in action yet—is just kinda’ self-serving.

    Just look back at Anthony Duclair. He had a great camp(got a lot of hype–and a nice nickname), made the team—I think he scored 1 goal in real action—got traded—got traded again–and yesterday was not qualified by Chicago. Its all a crapshoot—just let it play out.

  14. My problem is with this teams draft history. Read Larry Brook’s article he wrote over the weekend on our history. I’m just tired of seeing players drafted after we pick be better than our picks. When do we get the player everyone wishes they didn’t pass on?

    The problem with our team is the cigar smoking president we’ve have for the past 19 years! Someone tell me why he still has a job?

    1. Sather is a hockey guy. Hockey guys know everything duh.

      Side note, take it easy on the “better than our picks”. These kids are 18. Kraitsov could develop into an elite player, Wahlstrom could too. Or they could both be busts. Or one, or the other. There’s absolutely NO basis to say Wahlstrom is better than Kraitsov, or anyone drafted after him.

      18 years later… let’s look back at the 2000 draft. How LIVID would all the Islander fans have been if they took a nobody from Sweden named Henrik Lundqvist, over a bonafide budding superstar franchise goalie named Rick DiPietro first overall?

      My point is, nobody, not the smartest hockey guys, or the smartest bloggers in the world have ANY IDEA whose “better”, or who is going to be better, down the road.

      1. I’m following this team for over 55 years my friend and Mr. Sather told us how easy it would be to win a cup if he had the Ranger’s budget, well he got the job and he won NOTHING in 19 years. One cup final is all we got with all his bragging. Getting lucky on a 7th round pick (Lundqvist) is not a good GM. What about McCalrath, Hugh Jessiman, Pavel Brundell, Lundmark, Sanguinetti,Montoya,Korpikoski all 1st round picks that went nowhere. Their draft record speaks for itself and all the experts agree the Ranger draft history is one of the worst in the league.

    2. I’ve watched this team since the early 80s and what we have been lucky enough to watch since the 2004 lockout was nothing I had ever seen before. The Rangers have been primarily a homegrown team since Glen Sather took over. Don’t count the pre-lockout years because it took 5 years to stock the pipeline with talent after Neil Smith drafted virtually nothing from 1993-1999. Where have you gone Dan Goneau!

      That’s why Glen Sather was allowed to settle into retirement as a Ranger Exec. He presided over, easily, the most successful stretch of Ranger hockey since the club’s inception in the 20s.

    3. Do you follow the NFL? Some publication will do a “Redraft of the XXXX draft” several years after that draft and it is always very different. It is important to realize the difference between talking about 18 –20 year old hockey players and 21 — 23 year old football players. The latter is easier to do since they are fully mature men. You could go to Walter Football’s (if you substitute the words for the characters) redraft of the 2012 draft prior to the 2017 season and see how different it is. I used this because they are a draft site and included who they thought should get selected with that pick. Every organization in every year will reflect on an earlier draft and think, “We should have picked him instead of the player we drafted”.


  15. So, Yakupov wasn’t qualified either? Weren’t the Rangers rumored to be interested in him a few years ago when he was with Edm.? He’d be a reclamation project now.

    1. Nail and Duclair would be perfect for the Rangers, I’d sign them.

      If only one of them actually turns into an asset what a coup that would be for the Rangers

        1. Not a bad choice. I don’t really see what the upside to adding Sheahan to the Rangers is. Sheahan is a known commodity, a bottom 6 C. A need for a contender but not someone worth adding right now. Bottom 6 Cs can be signed almost every summer. I don’t think there’s a need to add one until it’s time to contend.

          Duclair and Yakupov still have some potential they could fulfill. Worst case scenario for both players, they flame out and are released from their inexpensive one year contracts by November. Best case, Rangers get a couple of free middle 6 wingers assets.

          Best case with Sheahan is the Rangers flip him for a second rounder next trade deadline. Worst case, Rangers are stuck with a bottom 6 C with a 3 year contract and a $3M annual cap hit.

          1. Sheehan is just that….a Center….gives the Rangers options to include trades and he is still young. He is physical as a center….all of our centers are soft

            1. Sheahen is going to cost a ton compared to his production. And the Rangers are already stocked with NHL Cs. None are great, but neither is Sheahan.

              If you trade Sheahan, what kind of return are you looking at? Probably a low second round pick, no? All picks are good, but I’d prefer to take fliers on younger players with more upside. Nail and Duclair offer that upside. And both would jump at a chance to play with the Rangers. They’d have a really good chance at getting top line, NHL minutes which could rejuvenate their NHL careers.

              1. No no no…not trade Sheehan but the other centers for best return then he plugs in

              2. I think they just tried moving the other Cs for a decent return and no one was interested.

                Trades for middle 6 forwards don’t really happen this time of year while FA is still an option.

                The Rangers likely won’t be able to move any of their Cs until it gets closer to the next deadline and a contender or two has a hole to fill.

              3. You really can’t have too many centers. Any center can play wing; the reverse isn’t true.

                And in the short run, the Rangers are thin at forward. By my reckoning, Peter Holland is good enough to start for the current team. I’m not taking a position on Sheahan, but the Rangers need some bodies up front.

  16. At least now I know how to pronounce his name! Kratsofv! Kratsofv! Kratsofv! Yeah!

  17. Lies, darn lies, and statistics

    Nice work with all of the data Pat – as some have noted or attempted to do, data can be manipulated to tell various sides of a story depending on your point of view.

    Picking the unknown vs. the expected in a draft like this is going to create noise just because of the knowledge of the fan base on the more anticipated selections and the lack of knowledge of the actual pick.

    Honestly – after just three days I am already tired of this debate.

    The bottom line is Kravtsov does have a huge upside which could be higher than many of the other first rounders. Or not.

    And that is the gamble that every team takes. It’s just a draft until they hit the ice and we find out for sure what each individual player has. Sometimes it is obvious early and sometimes it takes a little longer.

    My concern is not with this specific player but the overall top to bottom process of talent evaluation from the stale Ranger front-office/scouting personnel. Other than kicking Sather upstairs there have been no significant changes in more than a decade and that is worrisome.

    Pat – love the paper and pencil approach – but have you heard of Excel?

  18. All this bashing of Wahlstrom….and pointing to having played with Hughes

    How inflated are Hughes numbers BECAUSE Wahlstrom PUT the puck in the net?
    All I have read is justification….for Clark…..nothing else…quite a lot of it

    Clark does not manage the draft well. That’s become a fact now

  19. Great Point Leatherneck about the whining over tarasenko when McIlrath was here!!!!
    Dave just made the best argument why this entire mngt team-sather, gorton, clark needs to go!!!!!
    Look at the bonehead moves year after year after year…….HOW many chances do they get??????
    We should have fired them as soon as Lou Lamoriello became available and Wahlstrom would be a Ranger!!!!!! Built like JT Miller…..plug and play….20 plus goals every year for next 10, I predict!

    1. Yaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwnnnnnnnnn …..

      Old Man Lou hasn’t built a winner in over 15 years. He hasn’t had a competitive team, except that one fluke Finals appearance in 2012. Since 2003, he hasn’t had a team go past the second round, except for that fluke in 2012.

      The game passed him by ages ago and he is still befuddled by the Cap.

      I hope Tavares stays in NY and he can lead the Isles from one floundering season to the next while they pay their captain $10M a year to be a perennial bubble team.

      1. Chris

        Agree, and based on this draft results, they will proclaim him a God. He was at the right place, and right time, and had three good players fall into his lap. I said they would proclaim him a genius, and the propaganda has begun!!!!!!!! Has anyone seen Lou walk on water yet??????

    2. 20+ goals for 10 years? You don’t sound too confident about his abilities. I would consider anything less than 30-35+ goals a year to be serious comedown for this paragon of goal scoring.

  20. Don’t know why everyone is crying about the draft. It was a very good draft. We got some potential high end forwards and drafted dmen. If you rebuild you build from your goalie out. Which means you draft a good goalie or two and then overload on dman talent. Trade the extra pieces off of forwards and then the next year you draft your forwards. Dmen take longer to develop so you draft hem first.

  21. Congrats to Marty St Louis on the Hall of Fame announcement.

    A consummate professional in every sense of the word.

    If only he would have come to the Rangers two years earlier….

  22. If you can predict the NHL draft. You are wasting your time predicting the NHL draft. Get your ass into the stock market.

  23. for free agency, sign Grabner for 4th line – no more free agents. Let the process of youth play out!

  24. So, it will take awhile to know the true value of Wahlstrom, Bouchard, Dobson and Kravtsov. In a few years we will know if we hit it right or missed on this draft, but i still hate the 2nd round goalie choice!

    1. Would you still hate him if he ends up wearing a Ranger jersey and challenges Shesty for the #1? We’ll know his value as well in a few years.

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