The Vitali Kravtsov trade marks an end to a sad saga with the NY Rangers

The Vitali Kravtsov saga with the New York Rangers has finally come to an end with the Kravtsov trade to the Vancouver Canucks yesterday. The return was terrible, as expected, with the Rangers getting 24 year old AHLer Will Lockwood and a 2026 7th round pick in exchange for their 2018 9th overall pick. The Kravtsov saga, and a saga it was, was marred with horrible asset management and an immature prospect likely receiving bad advice. As per usual, I have some thoughts.

1. First and foremost, the Kravtsov trade return is horrible. There is no spin to it. Lockwood is not an NHL player, and a 7th round pick is nothing. At least it’s better than future considerations, but that doesn’t really make us feel better. It’s clear Kravtsov had no value around the league due to his flight risk to the KHL. It’s also clear Chicago wanted no part of him, or else he would’ve been included in the deal. Drury attempted to save face by getting something, but let’s be real, this whole situation was mismanagement at its finest.

2. The Rangers as an organization made a bunch of mistakes with Kravtsov, and it all boils down to communication. Kravtsov was sent to the AHL last season because he had waiver eligibility, and the club didn’t want to risk losing Libor Hajek on waivers (insert joke here). We all saw how that turned out. Then instead of trading him outright, they tried to salvage the relationship. It was a good idea in theory, but it’s clear Kravtsov was never in the club’s future. He was never given a true shot with the team.

3. That said, Kravtsov has his faults here as well. Most kids would have accepted that assignment to the AHL and worked their way back up. We can explain away why Kravtsov didn’t –poor decision making, immaturity for a 19 year old, lack of communication, Hartford is a disaster– go to the Wolf Pack, but in the end he needs to own his decision. It was a poor decision that only accelerated his tanking value, leading to the trade.

Anyone trying to place full blame on Kravtsov or on the Rangers is not having a good faith discussion. There is fault on both sides, and this was doomed from the start.

4. The Kravtsov trade, with the minimal return, was more about freeing up cap space for Patrick Kane. It’s funny how things work. Is there a Kravtsov trade if Kane doesn’t force his way to the Rangers? Is a Kravtsov trade instead delayed until the draft? Does a better package eventually present itself? Do we hear his name in NHL trade rumors or on the TSN trade tracker for the next 4 months?

5. Here’s a fun “what if” regarding the Kravtsov trade. If Kane doesn’t force his way to the Rangers, and remember Drury had moved on from Kane until extremely recently, does the Kravtsov trade happen at the deadline? Things changed very quickly last week, as reports went from a Kravtsov trade returning a high pick or a similar prospect in need of a change of scenery, to this abomination of a return to free up cap space.

6. One last thought on the Kravtsov trade: The return is awful, and I think we all agree. But we also see why the trade had to happen when it did. Kane will be a Ranger before their next back to back, and will likely be in the lineup against the Flyers on Wednesday. That’s what this accomplished. A sad end to an even sadder saga.


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