The Rangers could recall Kravtsov at any point this season to return to the NHL. (Brooks)
In the AHL this season Kravtsov had one assist, a minus two rating and two shots on goal in five games. Larry Brooks notes that Kravtsov was scratched in one game for the Wolf Pack and benched for stretches it two other games.
While with the Wolf Pack Kravtsov skated mostly with Matt Beleskey at LW and either Boo Nieves or Danny O’Regan at center.
Brooks adds that the Rangers worked with Kravtsov’s agent during this process and did not want an “adversarial” relationship to develop.
Adam Rotter: In the long run this is likely, hopefully, only a blip in what will be a long and productive career for Kravtsov and the Rangers. It’s not ideal that he is returning to the KHL, bigger ice and less of an NHL style game, but I’d bet he returns when the KHL season ends and plays in 10-15 games for the Rangers.
The Rangers view Kravtsov as a huge part of this rebuild/build and were not going to force him to be unhappy in Hartford when he has this clause in his contract. He negotiated to have this right for one-year in his contract and is taking advantage of it. There isn’t a great history of teenagers coming directly from the KHL to the NHL with most Russian teenagers in the KHL coming from the CHL and playing in North America.
Traktor’s last regular season game is 2/20 so Kravtsov will be back with the Rangers probably somewhere around the trade deadline.
When Kravtsov was sent down at the end of training camp:
What Jeff Gorton said, “highly skilled guy that is a young player and trying to figure out North American hockey. Flashes of really good things, especially on the PP – we can all see his skill and thinking and hands. I don’t think he is too far away, but I think 20-minutes is a better service to him than 7-8-9 minutes and not knowing if he’s going to be in the lineup. Those are the conversations we had and decisions we made.”
What David Quinn said, “he came a long way since Traverse, and this is a mans league and he and I have talked about the difference between here and the KHL and how much faster and physical it is and I liked how each game he became more engaged and physical and his pace got better and better, but for a guy who wouldn’t be in the top-nine, it’s better for his development that he is down there playing in a very good league, being coached by our staff down there, we feel very confident with what is going on in Hartford, that he is going to really benefit from his time down there.”
Adam Rotter: There seem to be a few different angles/perceptions at play here with Kravtsov. One is that he was sent to Hartford because they didn’t have a top-nine spot for him and that now that Namestnikov has been traded and Brendan Smith is on the third-line, at least for tomorrow, the Rangers are making a mistake by not calling him up. The other side of that is that Kravtsov proved in camp that he isn’t NHL ready and that even if injuries occurred and multiple spots opened up, I think you’d see Filip Chytil, Boo Nieves, Danny O’Regan or Phil Di Giuseppe called up before him. Why? Because he hasn’t earned his spot in the NHL yet. If Kravtsov puts up 15 points in the next 10 games, then he would certainly move up on that list, but he’s played three games, has one, assist and zero shots. The Rangers LOVE Kravtsov but aren’t going to put him in the lineup just because he was the 9th overall pick, or that the Isles had Oliver Wahlstrom in their lineup, or that Brendan Smith, Micheal Haley or Greg McKegg are in the lineup. Kravtsov will get his chance but he has to earn it in Hartford and go through the growing pains of playing in a new country, in a new rink and new styles.
Chris Drury said that Kravtosv is “so smart” and that the way he sees things on the ice and how quickly he is able to process them is “extremely exciting for us.” (The Athletic)
Alexi Kruchnin, who played with Kravtsov in the KHL, also said that he is similar to Kuznetsov, adding that he has “great potential.” (Sport24)
John Davidson said recently that Kravtsov is an example of the kind of player the Rangers want, “he came in, I think yesterday, and will be here the duration and will learn the language and I like that. He’s going to work with people that can work with conditioning, nutrition, there is a guy that seems pretty darn committed. That is the type of stuff you want.”
Chris Peters listed Kravtsov, along with K’Andre Miller, as “A” prospects currently in the Rangers system. (ESPN)
Corey Pronman of The Athletic ranked Kravtsov as the Rangers #2 prospect, adding that he has “game-breaking skill” and the ability to beat “even some of the best NHL defensemen with his 1-on-1 moves.”
Shesterkin, 23, signs a two-year entry level deal that includes a clause that would allow him to return to Russia if he is assigned to Hartford.
Kravtsov, 19, signs a three-year entry level deal that has a cap hit of $925,000 per season and also includes a clause that would allow him to return to Russia. (Cap Friendly)
From the Rangers release:
Shesterkin: The 6-1, 187-pounder has appeared in 117 KHL games over parts of six seasons (2013-14 – 2018-19), posting an 88-16-7 record, along with a 1.68 GAA, a .935 SV%, and 27 SO. Among goaltenders who have made at least 50 career KHL appearances, Shesterkin’s career 1.68 GAA is the best in league history and his career .935 SV% is the second-best in league history. In 95 regular season appearances over the last three seasons (2016-17 – 2018-19), Shesterkin posted a 79-9-4 record, along with a 1.49 GAA, a .940 SV%, and 25 SO. He has also appeared in 16 career Gagarin Cup Playoff games, and he helped SKA St. Petersburg win the Gagarin Cup in 2016-17. Shesterkin is a two-time KHL All-Star (2016-17 and 2017-18), and he was named to the KHL’s First All-Star Team in 2016-17, as he posted a 31-4-1 record, along with a 1.64 GAA, a .937 SV%, and 8 SO in 39 appearances during the season.
Kravtsov: The 6-3, 181-pounder has skated in 88 career KHL regular season games over parts of three seasons (2016-17 – 2018-19), all with Traktor Chelyabinsk, registering 12 goals and 16 assists for 28 points, along with 12 penalty minutes. Kravtsov’s 28 career KHL points are the eighth-most by a teenager in league history, and his 16 career assists are the seventh-most by a teenager in league history. He received the Alexei Cherepanov Award as the KHL’s Rookie of the Year in 2017-18.
Adam Rotter: So after a long wait the Rangers finally have Igor Shesterkin coming to North America. Shesterkin is coming to North America with the understanding that Hartford and the AHL is a real possibility for this year. He didn’t leave the KHL assuming he would supplant Henrik Lundqvist or even be his back up unless he out plays Alex Georgiev. Shesterkin will get a chance in training camp to start with the Rangers but there is an argument to be made that he should go to Hartford anyway and be the starter there. Shesterkin has only really ever split time as a goalie so going to Hartford, in addition to adjusting to the North American rink and style of play, would allow him to get the majority and be a number one. The Rangers love him and his potential but he will have to earn his time between the pipes for the Rangers.
The wait for Kravtsov was much shorter though, with the lack of talent the Rangers had up front at times this season, it almost felt longer. It wouldn’t be a shock if Kravtsov begins the season with the Rangers and then goes to Hartford for most of the year before coming back up at the end like Filip Chytil did in 2017-18. He is a core piece and along with Kaapo Kakko/Jack Hughes joins a group of skilled young players that will hopefully drive the Rangers back towards playing deep into the spring and early summer.
Rangers prospect Vitali Kravtsov posted the following on Instagram on Monday saying goodbye and thanking his KHL team.
Translated via Google, Kravtsov wrote, “Chelyaba !! I would like to say a huge thank you to all those who supported me in this not easy way, thanks to all the fans, all the partners with whom I played on the same team, all those who taught me suggested and scolded, I grew up in that city at the moment, I will remember all the victories and defeats, crazy support in the stands, I met many people in this city thanks to hockey, thanks to everyone, it was unforgettable !! Thanks @hc_traktor BLACK AND WHITE TANKOGRAD! ”
Kravtsov, 19, had 12 goals and 16 assists, 151 shots and an average of 12:43 per game in 88 career KHL games.
In 26 career playoff games, Kravtsov had 7 goals, 7 assists, 52 shots and an average of 12 minutes per game.
From the Rangers Prospect Report on 3/11:
Vitali Kravtsov tallied an assist, recorded four shots on goal, and posted a plus-two rating in Game 4 of Traktor’s Quarterfinals series against Avtomobilist; the game was Kravtsov’s final contest of the KHL season, as Traktor was eliminated.
The Rangers’ first round pick (ninth overall) in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft tied for the team lead in assists (two), ranked second on Traktor in shots on goal (12), and tied for second in points (two) and plus/minus rating (plus-one) in the playoffs this year.
Kravtsov is tied for first among KHL players younger than 20 years old in assists and points in the playoffs this year.
Kravtsov skated in 50 regular season games with Traktor in 2018-19, registering eight goals and 13 assists for 21 points, along with six penalty minutes.
He led all KHL players younger than 20 years old in goals, assists, and points this season. Kravtsov’s 21 points in 2018-19 are tied for the ninth-most by a KHL player younger than 20 years old in league history (tied with Artemi Panarin, who recorded 21 points in 2010-11), and his 13 assists in 2018-19 are tied for the eighth-most by a KHL player younger than 20 years old in the league’s history.
In addition, Kravtsov represented Traktor at the 2019 KHL All-Star Game.
He tied for the team lead in game-winning goals (three), ranked third on Traktor in points and shots on goal (114), tied for third in assists, and tied for fourth in goals during the regular season in 2018-19.
Kravtsov has recorded 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in 26 career playoff games in the KHL. During the 2018 Gagarin Cup Playoffs, he tallied 11 points (six goals, five assists) in 16 games; in the process, he recorded more playoff points in one year than any other teenager has in their career in KHL history.
Kravtsov’s seven career playoff assists and 14 career playoff points are the most by a teenager in KHL history, and his seven career playoff goals are the second-most in KHL history, trailing only Evgeny Kuznetsov (eight).
If Kravtsov plays in one NHL game this season he will burn the first-year of his entry-level contract but the Rangers would not need to protect him in the 2021 Seattle expansion draft unless he plays 10 or more games. (Sportsnet)
Larry Brooks writes that it isn’t yet known if Kravtsov’s contract expires with his teams elimination or the end of the KHL playoffs. (NY Post)
Brooks notes that the Rangers could sign Kravtsov to an Amateur Try-Out and assign him to Hartford without starting his entry-level contract. (NY Post)
From the Rangers Prospect Reports:
12/3: “On a struggling team, filled with injuries and coaching changes, Vitali has been a bright light. His vision, playmaking ability, and dynamic skill and skating style are on display every game.” – Rangers Director of European Scouting Nickolai Bobrov on Vitali Kravtsov
12/31: “I dream of playing at Madison Square Garden. I was given a tour there – the place is legendary.” – Vitali Kravtsov
Adam Rotter: I’m not entirely sure it’s the best thing for the Rangers to bring Kravtsov over to North America for the last month of the season. He’s just played a full-year in the KHL, played in the World Juniors and will hopefully get a spot with Russia at the World Championships. The Rangers, in any situation, won’t put themselves in a position to where they need to protect Kravtsov in the expansion draft, so the only contract related issue would be burning off an entry-level year. Burning off an entry-level year isn’t a huge deal but it would put the Rangers in a situation where Kravtsov would join Lias Andersson, Filip Chytil, Brett Howden and Libor Hajek in being RFAs. It would certainly be exciting to see Kravtsov join the Rangers but I’m just not sure they are going to bring him over now. I think that the plan for Kravtsov could be to sign him, bring him over to practice with the Rangers and then maybe play a few games in Hartford. That would allow everyone to see Kravtsov and work with him a little without burning any time off his contract. I’d also imagine that the Rangers would like to set a plan for Kravtsov’s offseason work before development camp and then keep him in the area following camp to work with Ben Prentiss.