New York Rangers storylines: From trading Vitali Kravtsov to deciding on Ryan Strome’s future

The New York Rangers concluded a successful October under first year head coach Gerard Gallant. The veteran bench boss has lived up to his reputation as being a player’s coach and getting this team to excel, even under adverse circumstances.

Despite the Blueshirts 6-2-1 start, which includes five straight road wins, there are some intriguing storylines that involve matters that need a positive resolution. Let’s dive in.

Trading Vitali Kravtsov

It’s possible that this wouldn’t be as big a storyline if it weren’t for the fact that Kravtsov is the second top first round selection that wants out of the organization. Lias Andersson, a 7th overall pick fro 2017 bolted for Sweden from the Wolf Pack in 2019. He was traded for a second round pick in 2020.

Now we have 2018 1st rounder (9th overall) refusing assignment to Hartford and sitting in Russia awaiting a trade. The 21 year-old has just 4 points in 20 NHL games and doesn’t trust Chris Drury with his career. On top of that, there’s likely some resentment with how he’s been treated by the then assistant GM back in 2019.

Latest reports indicate that Drury wants another top prospect in return, but no one is willing to do it. Regardless, the Rangers have put him on loan to Traktor in the KHL as they work to get a trade done. Anything less than what they got for Andersson will be a failure.

Will the Rangers choose a captain this season?

The calls for Adam Fox to be named captain grew stronger after his extension announced on Monday. Gerard Gallant basically shot that down in his meeting with the media right after. “Just do what he does,” Gallant replied to a question about if he’d like to see Fox in a bigger leadership role.

“We’ve got enough leaders,” he continued. “I want him to come to the rink and do exactly what he’s done the last two years.”

So will the Rangers name a captain this season? From what I’ve been able to gather that doesn’t seem likely, at least for the regular season. It’s possible that if the team makes it to postseason action, they could name a captain for the playoffs. Jacob Trouba is still the prime candidate to get the honor.

What to do with Ryan Strome?

ryan strome
Oct 14, 2021; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers center Ryan Strome (16) chases a loose puck against Dallas Stars center Luke Glendening (11) during the third period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Since joining the Rangers, Strome’s game has steadily gotten better. Last season, he notched 49 points in 56 games and picked up 59 points in 70 contests the season prior. The 28 year-old is still in his prime and his numbers should continue to climb and get closer to a point a game status.

“I love being a Ranger, I think I fit in great here,” he said during training camp about his contract status. “Whatever happens, happens. Everyone is really excited (about this season), and that’s my focus.”

Unfortunately, the flat cap may have already dictated Strome’s fate. With the ceiling stuck at $81.5 Million the last two seasons, and only expected to increase to $82.5 Million next season, there’s no room to give him a huge raise. That was made even harder when the Rangers announced a 7 year extension for Adam Fox to the tune of $9.5M AAV.

The former 5th overall selection in the 2011 NHL Draft would be well within his rights to ask for a contract in the $6.5M to $7.5M range. A significant increase to his current $4.5M deal which expires this summer. Chris Drury needs to make a good move here, especially since there is a lack of depth at center in the organization.

Letting him walk this summer for nothing is not an option. Keeping him would be great, but someone well versed with the Rangers told me it’s impossible for Strome or Alexandar Georgiev to be here for cap reasons.

NHL Rumors

So about that Jack Eichel trade. Read what the hold up could be here.