New York Rangers need to maximize a Vitali Kravtsov trade
New York Rangers general manager Chris Drury doesn’t have it easy when it comes to trading Vitali Kravtsov. Whatever happens, he needs to get max value for him, but what does that mean to the 2022-23 Rangers? Whatever that answer is, it’s almost assuredly going to upset a portion of the fanbase.
When analyzing this situation, there’s some precedent here for the Rangers. Lias Andersson, whom the team selected 7th overall in 2017, was another struggling and disgruntled first-round selection. A few years later, they jettisoned him to the Los Angeles Kings for a 2020 second round pick that turned into Will Cuylle.
At this point, Drury would be so lucky to get that high a pick for Kravtsov. Every team in the league knows that the Rangers don’t see him as a fit in their top-nine and they also have to eventually make room for the aforementioned Cuylle and 2021 first-round pick Brennan Othmann.
Breaking down the Vitali Kravtsov situation
The saga between the Rangers and Vitali Kravtsov dates back to 2019, when he used his European out clause to leave for the KHL after a few games with the Hartford Wolf Pack.
Here’s a high-level timeline of the situation:
- Kravtsov was taken 9th overall in the 2018 Draft
- In 2019, after being cut in training camp he used his European out clause
- Reports of friction between then Wolf PacK GM Chris Drury and Kravtsov began to emerge
- Kravtsov eventually came back and played in 20 games that season
- During the covid lockout shortened 2020-21 season, Kravtsov stayed in the KHL
- Kravtsov tells Russian media he doesn’t see a spot for him with Rangers
- Kravtsov joined the team for the playoffs in the bubble (did not play)
- After not making the team out of camp in 2021-22, he refused to report to AHL
- Kravtsov agrees to a one-year, one-way deal prior to the start of the 2022-23 season
- In 2022, Kravtsov made the team out of camp but has only played in 28 games
- Kravtsov’s camp requested a trade this past weekend
So why can’t Kravtsov stay in the lineup? For starters, he only has six points in 28 games, despite being given opportunities on the second line this season. The Rangers are a team contending for a Stanley Cup and aren’t looking to develop players at this time.
“I’ve mentioned it before to him, he’s a top-nine player, and right now, he’s not in our top nine,” Gerard Gallant said on Monday. “He’s not going to be a fourth-line player. He’s a good kid and he’s got to continue to work hard. When the chance is available, take advantage of it. You don’t give anything to anybody. You’ve got to make them earn it. I’m happy with the way our guys are playing. Kravy has come a long way this year, but I’m putting my top-nine forwards out there and he’s not one of them.”
The truth is, you can certainly blame the Rangers for letting it get to this point but Kravtsov’s decision to leave TWICE hurt his development and any chance to have a prominent role here.
What can the New York Rangers get?
Kravtsov, 23, has totaled 10 points in 48 games split between the 2020-21 and 2022-23 seasons. He will be an RFA with arbitration rights in July and Drury would do well to avoid a messy contract negotiation this summer.
Back in December, a knowledgeable source put his value at no higher than a second-round pick and more likely a third. If the Rangers are indeed okay with that, look for a team with multiple second-round picks as a likely destination.
List of teams with multiple 2023 second-round picks:
- Anaheim Ducks
- Buffalo Sabres
- Chicago Blackhawks
- Detroit Red Wings
- Seattle Kraken
Of course, a draft pick is nice but the Rangers window to win the Stanley Cup is now. That’s why I’ve been directed to look at the Arizona Coyotes. They have two potential targets in Nick Bjugstad and Nick Ritchie that Drury would love to add to the fourth-line for a deep playoff run. If Kravtsov is what it takes to get one of those players, no one should care if the Rangers win it all.
Anyone remember Tony Amonte (a proven young star) for Stephane Matteau and Brian Noonan in 1994?
Of course, there’s always a chance that the Rangers could try another big move involving a third party to eat serious cap space. Kravtsov would be a prime candidate along with Zac Jones to go in a deal of that magnitude.
The Trade Deadline is March 3. Stay tuned.
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