The NY Rangers have a problem. It’s a good problem. They currently have five potential top-six wingers in Chris Kreider, Artemi Panarin, Pavel Buchnevich, Kaapo Kakko (potential), and Alexis Lafreniere (potential). Two are already locked in long term, and there’s a solid argument that the other three could follow suit. That begs the question: Do the Rangers look to trade Vitali Kravtsov to address other areas on the roster?
Dealing From A Position Of Strength
That’s the name of the game with any trade. The Rangers did this when they traded Joey Keane, a RD, for Julien Gauthier, a RW. Then the Rangers won the draft lottery and will have the top pick in the draft. This comes one year after landing the second overall pick.
When the Rangers made the Keane/Gauthier swap, they hadn’t won the draft lottery. It’s amazing how one event can change everything. Now all of a sudden, the Rangers are flush with wingers at the NHL level. They also have players like Lauri Pajuniemi and Karl Henriksson in the system. The cupboard would be far from bare in a Kravtsov trade.
Perhaps He’s Headed The Wrong Way?
This is *way too premature* at this juncture. I’m going to repeat that. This is *way too premature* at this juncture. However the Rangers will need to know when to cut bait, even if it’s with a 9th overall pick. Byron Bader has been looking at how prospects develop, and the results don’t look good at the moment for Kravtsov.
Kravtsov looks very different from those recent stars that stayed in Russia for years before coming over to the NHL. Panarin, Kuznetsov and Tarasenko were all exceptional producers in the KHL by the time they were 20. They profiled like stars, Kravtsov doesn't. https://t.co/LU6AoQv6kx pic.twitter.com/ESrRvP8E5r
— Byron Bader (@ByronMBader) August 30, 2020
Now it’s worth noting Kravtsov had a very rough year last season. The Rangers rushed him to the AHL when he probably could have benefited from more time in Russia. It would have given him time to mature enough to make the big move to the US and the NHL. The drama impacted Kravtsov’s play, and it was a step backwards from his very strong campaign the prior season.
Much has been made about Kravtsov spending next season in the KHL, but if anything that’s a good thing. It will give him the opportunity to get his career back on track. He’s looked strong so far, which is certainly a good thing. However if these trends continue, or if he doesn’t rebound completely, then the Rangers might get caught holding the bag.
There’s Still Great Value
Vitali Kravtsov might be the best trade chip the Rangers have that they might actually move. He’s two years removed from being a top-ten selection, and he’s not even 21 years old yet. Two seasons ago he was solid, and while he did take that step back last season, he did have a few good runs.
A good portion of Kravtsov’s trade value may be impacted by his start to the KHL season. He’s had a solid start, but it’s very early. A strong rebound season is what he needs to get back on track, and that will play into what the Rangers can get with him as the centerpiece of a deal. There’s also significant value in his entry-level contract in a flat salary cap.
If the Rangers want to make true upgrades to the roster, then they will have to give something of value. Parting with Kravtsov would be difficult, especially since he’s a top-ten pick. But a trade involving Vitali Kravtsov may be the move that lands the Rangers a solid young LD or center.
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