On Vitali Kravtsov joining the Rangers

The KHL playoffs are underway, and all eyes are now on Vitali Kravtsov and Traktor, and when the Rangers will recall their top prospect. Currently the #5 seed, Traktor is unlikely to make a run in the playoffs. The NY Post noted that Kravtsov is likely to join the Rangers “soon” with a very misleading headline. Larry Brooks doesn’t write the headline, but the article is accurate. Kravtsov, if/when his team is eliminated, will be New York bound.

Always The Plan

While much criticized to start the season, this has always been the plan for Kravtsov. Kravtsov wasn’t going to get a spot on the roster to start the season. Looking at the roster, that still makes sense. Even with the injuries and weirdness with this season, the Rangers have too many wingers. Still do, quite frankly.

Kravtsov will need top-nine minutes for this to be worth while for the Rangers. He certainly rebounded in a big way this year in the KHL. The stat line “only” has 16 goals and 24 points. But looking deeper at that Traktor roster, you realize Kravtsov had no help at all. There’s a strong case that his assist number was halved because his teammates couldn’t finish.

Watching his play in the KHL, or at least the highlight reel, Kravtsov had much more confidence than last season. He was driving to the net and protecting the puck far better, and his feet were always moving. The skill is very clearly there. With this renewed confidence, it should translate to the NHL.

Where Does He Fit Today?

Kravtsov’s spot on the 2021 roster is certainly going to be an interesting conundrum. As a RW, he’s going to be behind Pavel Buchnevich and Kaapo Kakko. That’s fine, and a sheltered third line spot might be the best spot for Kravtsov.

Colin Blackwell has thrown a wrench into all this though. Blackwell is very deserving of a top-nine role. To say Blackwell has been one of the best Rangers forwards isn’t a stretch. However that shouldn’t stop a key piece of the Rangers future from top-nine minutes. After all, a fourth line with Blackwell, Kevin Rooney, and Brendan Lemieux is still pretty solid.

The Rangers would be foolish to assume a fully healthy roster too. Given the way this season has gone, I wouldn’t be surprised if a winger loses their baby toe in a freak curling accident.

But What If….

The kid is barely 21 years old. He’s going to need time to adjust. However given the way some have reacted to Kakko and Lafreniere, I wouldn’t be shocked to see calls to trade him if he doesn’t put up 50 goals immediately.

It’s important to have Kravtsov get time in the NHL for multiple reasons. First is getting time and getting used to the NHL speed of the game. It’s rare players can come in and contribute immediately.

Second is seeing what the Rangers have in him. After all, Kravtsov’s name does come up a lot in potential trades for Jack Eichel. While I don’t think the Rangers would showcase him or even trade him, Eichel is a whole different ballgame. Eichel aside, I’d lean that Kravtsov is untouchable for the time being.

Looping back to when he joins the Rangers, all that will be determined by Traktor’s playoff run. Kravtsov won’t leave his team during the playoffs. But you can guarantee he will be called up as soon as the playoffs are over.

Vitali Kravtsov will need to quarantine after his recall. He will still be at least a week away following his arrival in New York.

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  • There is a huge difference between Lafreniere and Kakko on the one hand and Kravtsov on the other. Lafreniere was an absolute lock as the #1 overall pick and Kakko was a lock as the #2 pick. The Rangers did not choose these players because they particularly liked them. they chose them because they were the obvious picks. I’m not saying this is true, but for all we know, scouting-wise, the Rangers may have regarded these players less highly than any other team regarded them. That means that their trade value can easily exceed their perceived worth in house. In contrast, Kravtsov was a reach in the draft. The Rangers saw him as a particular favorite. That means that – at least at the outset – Kravtsov was such more valuable to the Rangers as a future player than as a trade chip.

    Remember, if Laf or Kakko put together a career worthy of a #5 pick, they are disappointments. If Kravtsov puts up a career worthy of a #6 pick, he is a success.

  • I am looking forward to see what this kid has…they reached for him and passed up some very good talent…Farabee, really stings, Dobson and Bouchard should have long careers.

    I hope he succeeds but we can all safely assume that Gaut will be in dress clothes and Howden and Rooney will continue to play…that is not player development if you ask me.

  • Move Kakko to LW and let Kraftsov play RW on that 3rd line. Let Chytil be the center and let the line play as is for 3-4 games.

    I agree that Howden needs to sit a few games.

    OR -start shopping Buch/Kreider to see if there are any takers.

  • Just for heaven’s sake put kravtsov out there with a real center. No help may work against KHL opponents but kravtsov can’t be a one man show in the NHL. If he ends up playing on howden’s wing he be looking forward to the first aeroflot flight home!

      • touche! it is obviously dependent on who is active and how the roster can even be constructive.

        mika, strome, and chytil can all play the game, with chytil being a notable improvement as 3C from the last time kravtsov would have even had the opportunity to skate with him. so I guess my point was that burying kravtsov on the fourth line with 6.5 minutes a game will be counterproductive, not that anybody needs to stake this kid to a guaranteed role in the top 6.

  • Eichel is a -67 lifetime, and over the last 3 years his FOW% is 49%, which is 189th in the NHL, Rooney is 170th at 48.2, tied with Howden, and Blackwell is 51th. So we are considering trading who for this super center?

    • at a certain point there is only so much even a star player can do on a team that has been losing consistently for a decade. so is it the chicken or is it the egg?

  • Kravtsov’s nNHLe would have him at a 35 point pace, but it neglects the month where he played away from Hyka & Sedlak. Take those games out and you’re looking at a 40+ point pace.

    Kravtsov has a nose for pouncing on loose pucks near the net, that fluke goal on the last day of the season is a great example of creating your own luck.

    Still needs to put on 10 lbs of muscle.

  • The kid has good hands. He also has good sense. I think he will be a good NHL forward. But he does need to put on some more muscle. Get that kid some Ovaltine! 🙂

  • lines:
    Panarin – Zib – Buch
    Laf – Chytl – Kappo
    Kreider – Strome – Blackwell / Kravs rotation
    Lemieux – Rooney – DeGuiseppe / Gauthier rotation

    We will lose either Gauthier or Lemieux in expansion draft.
    Howden part of future trade or 4th line next year. More likely trade as Barron comes up

    • These lines look good. I do wonder about BL, though.

      PDG – Rooney – Goat

      Is it me, or does Lemieux skate with the puck and along the way it just slides off of his stick like a glitch in NHL 94? I like a lot about him. He plays hard, sticks up for teammates and draws penalties. However, he shoots wide, a lot, and seems to lose the puck a lot too. I think DeGuiseppe and Gauthier are both much better at the cycle game and keeping possession.

      I used to be a big fan and was high on him in his draft year. He’s just slowly losing me.

    • I still don’t see the fascination with Buch. He’s so up and down. Trade him now before he is due an undeserving raise on his next contract. Try to package him with a prospect or prospects and draft pick for a center. Not saying it will be easy but that’s what I’d try to do.

  • I’m torn on bringing the kid over to play this season. Right now the roster is a mess. As Dave points out they have a bunch of wingers already, and this kid is built like a twig teenager. It’s getting to point when we ask how many under 21yr olds do we need to see on this team at one time? He’s not going to come over and score 10 goals. I’d rather see some results from Kaako and Laf before we have the coaches worry about Kratsov. Maybe they bring him over to get acclimated with the team for practices and give him a few spot starts, but it’s getting to the point where enough is enough with the teens. We have enough already…and they’re all struggling. Get him some practice time with the big boys and get him on a team fitness program so he comes into camp next season strong, comfortable and confident.

  • Kravstov, Nils, prospects for Eichel. Sabres are dealing form a position of weakness. No one will give them top prospects for a whining player that just might whine his way out of Buffalo….Hw could whine himself into NYC.

    • Do optimists know how the salary cap works when one team is using LTIR and their trading partner only has $2.5mm of cap space at the trade deadline?

    • Sending those two prospects is a high price for a questionable center, especially Nils. In my opinion.

    • to the Optimist……No disrespect to J Eichel…he is not Messier. He hasn’t made those around him better, has not won anything, he is not worth (currently) what his reported contract is, can’t think his teammates appreciate the “I want out” attitude…i guess this disrespects him…not intentional. I wouldn’t want to attract that attitude to (if true) to the NYR lockerroom. Jack, lace them up and help make Buffalo a good team again, like you were drafted to.
      NYR fans (i’m one) have gone thru this rebuild for a purpose. As good as Jack is, I want Kravstov, Nils and prospects playing for the NYR and in MSG. If JG cant make another Mika type trade to get him, leave the roster alone.
      NYR are going to need a coach before they are going to need Eichel, and DQ was dealt a terrible hand.

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