Chris Kreider down, Vitali Kravtsov up? Who will the Rangers look to?
The Blueshirts have lost Chris Kreider for the foreseeable future and the immediate person to step in will be Greg McKegg who was a scratch yesterday. The Rangers were already operating with just 6 defensemen and there was some thought about bringing up a blue-liner, but now the focus will shift to a forward. So who are the Rangers likely to call up from Hartford? That depends on what they want to accomplish with the move.
The Wolf Pack Captain is a possibility, especially if the Rangers want a reserve forward who can step in and play 4th line minutes in a pinch. The 26 year old played 6 games earlier this season but has no points in 17 NHL games. He likely means more to the Pack as he has 36 points and 49 games on the year, so the Rangers would be very careful before pulling him away from Hartford who have Championship hopes this season.
If the Rangers want someone who can chip in 3rd line offense, 25 year old Vinni Lettieri is the best choice. The Pack’s leading scorer has 44 points in 56 games, and gives David Quinn some options to move players around. How about Kappo Kakko on the left side with either Strome or Zibanejad? The bottom line is that calling up Lettieri is a low risk/reward move and really doesn’t move the needle for a playoff push.
Now if the Rangers want to make a move with multiple levels of consequence, calling up Vitali Kravtsov who is part of the future would move needles. Yes it is a high risk/reward play but if Kravtsov who nearly made the team out of camp can chip in real offense and inject that youthful optimism it will be worth it. The Rangers had it in their game plan this season to give him a look at some point and now they have a golden opportunity.
Kravtsov is 20 years old and has 14 points in 33 games. While that may not seem impressive, many of those points have been garnered in the last few weeks. The Rangers’ first round 9th overall pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft has 1 goal and 7 assists for 8 points in his last 12 games. There is also no concern about burning a year off his entry level contract since he signed it during the year of his 20th birthday. Only deals signed in a player’s 18th or 19th birth date year are slide eligible. So the Rangers have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Calling up Kravtsov is the bold move, but will the Rangers make it?