June 12, 2020

Rangers considering Vitali Kravtsov and Lias Andersson for expanded roster, but does it make sense

Kravtsov (NYR Twitter)

In the 2018 NHL Draft, the Rangers surprised a lot of people by selecting Vitali Kravtsov with the #9 pick. Highly touted goal scorer Oliver Wahlstrom was the expected selection per many prospect experts but the Rangers went with a player most had ranked around 14. Of course, no one should be shocked considering they selected Lias Andersson with the #7 pick in 2017, a huge overreach. Now we come to learn that both are being strongly considered by the Rangers for the expanded playoff roster.

Latest Reports

Per the latest 31 Thoughts by Elliotte Friedman, both Lias Andersson and Vitali Kravtsov are being considered for the expanded roster.

The Rangers are looking at both 2018 first rounder Vitali Kravtsov and Lias Andersson, who went back to Sweden last season. Andersson is in the conversation because he played well there, and both sides are working hard to make sure the lines of communication are strong.

Leaving the Pack

Kravtsov (Wolf Pack)

Both Lias Andersson and Vitali Kravtsov left the Hartford Wolf Pack this season. Of course, each took very different paths in doing so. Kravtsov exercised his European Out Clause to go back to the KHL only to find that the grass wasn’t greener and eventually returned back to the Pack. On the flip side, Andersson first demanded a trade and then simply left Hartford for Sweden. Soon after Andersson opened up about his frustrations, his mental state, and ankle issues as his reasons for heading home.

Finding Success

Once situated and settled in, both first round picks found success again this season. Andersson with HV71 in the SHL and Kravtsov back with the Pack started to smile and find their games. For Lias he found that childhood joy in playing back home in Sweden leading to a strong performance. In 15 games, Andersson scored 7 goals and 12 points (.80 pts/gm). Two tallies were game winners and he made a mark on the PP with 4 goals all while averaging over 15 minutes per game.

Andersson (jnytt.se)

Kravtsov took more time to find his game with the Pack but that had a lot to do with his own decision to leave. Vitali is a raw talent who wants to be a star. However, having spoke to enough people that have covered him in the KHL he still had a lot of growing up to do. Kravtsov from what one Russian reporter told me can be very cocky. Now that can be a blessing and a curse for an athlete and we know which one reared its ugly head this year.

From what I could gather, the experience of going back to the KHL and having it not go as he thought was a much needed growing pain. Since his December return he posted 6 goals and 9 assists in 34 games, mostly bouncing around the lineup. While the numbers aren’t impressive, his commitment to learning and playing in North America was a big step forward.

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Do They Deserve Spots

The fact that both are being considered as expanded roster additions by John Davidson, Jeff Gorton, and David Quinn speaks volumes. In truth, even if both are added to the 28 skaters list plus unlimited goalies they are unlikely to see action. It would simply be for the experience of witnessing a NHL playoff run up close.

If we go by play, Andersson with his prior NHL experience and success with HV71 should be on the roster. It will also help build his trade value should the Rangers move him at the draft. As for Vitali Kravtsov, he struggled a lot with the Pack and was absent on many nights. His coach, Kris Knoblauch did commend his play later in the season before it was cancelled, but he’s not ready to play in an NHL playoff game.

The decision the club will make on these players will be interesting, because both are overseas. Should the Rangers invite them for training camp, it should be a strong indicator that they will be added to the roster for the postseason.

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