New York Rangers should do everything they can to keep Vitali Kravtsov out of any trade

vitali kravtsov
May 5, 2021; New York, New York, USA; Vitek Vanecek #41 of the Washington Capitals blocks the net against Vitali Kravtsov #74 of the New York Rangers during the third period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Bennett/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

Late last night, Jack Eichel’s agents turned up the heat on the Buffalo Sabres. After GM Kevyn Adams almost pompous like comments about being in “control of the process”, they unloaded.

“The process is not working,” both Peter Fish and Peter Donatelli wrote. “As previously stated, we fully anticipated a trade by the start of the NHL free agency period.” They then went on to blast the Sabres for making them think that Eichel’s preference for an artificial disc replacement was acceptable “until it was no longer the case.”

They closed it out by accusing the Sabres of prolonging this issue by either not trading him or approving his preferred surgery. “This process is stopping Jack from playing in the NHL and it is not working.”

Jack Eichel trade expected to move forward

The general belief is now that the Eichel camp has spoken out and turned up the heat, a trade may be closer to happening. Maybe this is exactly what Kevyn Adams wanted all along due to the lack of offers he was getting.

Let’s face it, a $10 million dollar player who needs an artificial disc in his neck isn’t getting you the same return as if he just wanted out. Of course, trading the franchise’s best player for high to mid-level prospects and a first round pick isn’t going to appease the fanbase regardless of his injury. At least now Adams could say they forced his hand.

Which brings us to the one team that still appears to be interested, as they have been since last year.

The Rangers package for Eichel

vitali kravtsov
Rangers prospect Vitali Kravtsov and other Rangers prospects practice at the Rangers training facility in Greenburgh Sept. 5, 2019. Rangers Prospects Practice

When it comes to the Rangers and Jack Eichel trade talk, the one constant in every package has been Vitali Kravtsov.

His name was given to me by a team source dating all the way back to March. “You can take Kravtsov, a first (round pick), and one of the young defensemen, plus one roster player,” I was told. “See if (Buffalo) can do better,” was the final comment.

That was before everyone knew the full extend of Eichel’s neck injury. It probably dropped off from there which led to them cooling off on any further talks. Until now.

According to Larry Brooks of the NY Post, he’s hearing the Rangers original package has changed, partially due to the Sabres need for a starting goalie.

There is a strong sense that Chytil would necessarily be included in a package going the other way in a hypothetical deal for Eichel, because the Sabres need a center in return and all that. But one individual with some knowledge of the proceedings told The Post on Thursday that the latest entreaty includes Vitali Kravtsov, Zac Jones, Alexandar Georgiev and a first-rounder, but not Chytil.

NY Post

When the Rangers signed Filip Chytil to a bridge deal worth $2.3 million for two seasons it was thought he’d be included in any Eichel trade. Obviously a player under contract is better than trading for his rights.

Chris Drury is likely willing to move either Chris Kreider or Alexis Lafreniere to the right wing, but after trading Pavel Buchnevich he should keep Vitali Kravtsov to take his spot. If he can swap out Kravtsov with Chytil it would be an excellent move.

The Rangers must keep Vitali Kravtsov

This isn’t really rocket science. After trading, Buchnevich it would be wise to keep the 9th overall pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. Kravtsov had a rocky start in 2019. He didn’t make the team out of camp and then decided to use his European out clause to go back to the KHL. This last season was a different story.

He finished the KHL season with Traktor and recorded 16 goals and 24 points in 49 games. He had a +8 rating to go along with 12 penalty minutes. However, what really stood out was his defensive play and his play without the puck.

In limited action on Broadway, he showed that same ability at the NHL level. At the time, one Rangers executive told me that Kravtsov’s “hockey sense is elite” and it’s obvious his stock grew since his name was brought up in trade talks.

The 21 year-old winger scored two goals and four points in the 20 games he played for the Rangers, mostly on the third and fourth lines.

When analyzing his game, he used his 6-3 frame to his advantage. He has excellent skating ability and a great shot release. Kravtsov also seemed to be one of the team’s smarter players, appearing to be in the right position at both ends of the ice.

If the Rangers do make a deal for Eichel, it may behoove Drury to do everything in his power to keep Kravtsov.

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Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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