#KravtsovWatch: Is it the right move to bring him over?
Vitali Kravtsov’s season ended yesterday, as his Traktor were swept out of the playoffs. Now “free” to sign with the team that drafted him, all eyes are on the Rangers and what they plan on doing with their 2018 1st round pick.
There are truly just three scenarios for the Rangers and Kravtsov:
- Sign him now and bring him to the NHL.
- Sign him now and bring him to the NHL, but limit him to fewer than 11 games played (we will get to this).
- Sign him for next year and send him to the AHL.
- Sign him for next year, let him rest, and bring him over in the summer.
The intention, at least from this source, is that the Rangers are going to sign him right away, and that Kravtsov wants to come over. This is good! What that tweet doesn’t answer is the start date of the contract. Remember that Kravtsov can only play in the NHL if he signs a contract with the Rangers that starts this year (as in before July 1, 2019). Otherwise he cannot play at the NHL level this season, not even on a PTO, per my understanding.
If the Rangers go that route, bringing him to the NHL this season and not next, they 100% burn a year off his ELC if he plays just one game. That’s risky, but shouldn’t really be a deal breaker. The most important thing for the Rangers to do is ensure that Kravtsov remains exempt from the 2021 expansion draft for Seattle. Of all other concerns, this is paramount. Compounding the concern is that everyone seems to have a different view of how that would work, but the prevailing theory thus far is that as long as he plays in 10 games or fewer, the Rangers don’t start his professional clock. They’d burn the ELC year, but not his first pro year, so he’d be exempt. I think.
Just a note on burning the ELC year, it isn’t that big of a deal but it is something that the Rangers should avoid if possible. They are in a position to use cap space as an asset to take on a toxic contract or two, potentially one with years on it, to get something of significant value. Burning a year dips into that flexibility, especially if the Rangers really are going after someone like Artemi Panarin. At some point, that cap space runs out.
The other option is signing Kravtsov to a deal that starts next season, then signing him to an ATO to play in Hartford for the rest of the year. That’s certainly allowable by the rules, but do you really want your best prospect toiling away in that disaster? It gets him over to North America, but yeesh I’d avoid that at all costs.
Circling back to the options above, the first shouldn’t be on the table at all. Burning his expansion draft exemption is downright stupid. The other three options all have their pros and cons, and there are good arguments for all three of them. There is really no wrong answer here, just preferences. News should come soon, though.