March 11, 2021

Rangers countdown to Vitali Kravtsov begins

Jun 22, 2018; Dallas, TX, USA; Vitali Kravtsov puts on a team jersey after being selected as the number nine overall pick to the New York Rangers in the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Vitali Kravtsov and his KHL team Traktor have been eliminated from the playoffs. While that isn’t going to make Traktor fans happy, the Rangers Faithful are now eagerly awaiting the return of Kravtsov to Broadway.

Countdown to Kravtsov

Traktor was eliminated today four games to one. This releases Kravtsov from his KHL obligation. As far as a timetable of when he can get here, the safest estimate would be approximately two weeks from tomorrow.

Vitali will need to follow quarantine and COVID protocols before he could even step on the ice for practice. On top of that, I would expect that he would be placed on the taxi squad team to start.

When it comes to making his NHL debut for the Blueshirts, the end of the month is the most likely scenario. There’s also an outside chance of it being closer to the trade deadline.

VITALI KRAVTSOV
Vitali Kravtsov at practice (Photo: Charles Wenzelberg)

Where to play Vitali Kravtsov?

You expect this to be an easy answer I’m sure.

Many are clamoring for a line featuring Alexis Lafreni̬re at LW, Filip Chytil at C, and Vitali Kravtsov on the RW. That could very well happen but I find it hard having that many young players on one line Рespecially if the Rangers are flittering with a playoff spot.

I know this sounds crazy considering how hot Chris Kreider’s goal scoring has been but he could be on that 3rd line. Alexis Lafreniere’s could stay with Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich and thus give the Blueshirts three solid scoring lines.

That’s if Kravtsov actually plays with the big club right away.

Cap concerns and waivers could play a role

At this moment the Rangers have 23 men on the roster. They have space on the taxi squad but some players would have to go through waivers if you want to put them there. For instance, Julien Gauthier could be sent to the taxi squad but someone would easily pick him up. Same for Colin Blackwell and Brendan Lemieux.

The Rangers could opt to let Kravtsov stay with the club and practice on the taxi squad. Or he could stay sharp on the first line in the AHL with the Wolf Pack. Around the trade deadline, New York could move some salary out and comfortably fit Vitali under the cap and those pesky performance bonus cushions.

There’s just a lot of moving parts right now that could be settled by the time he arrives. This is just to provide a little more insight of how things could go down over the next few weeks.

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