Rangers prospect Kravtsov headed to the KHL playoffs

KHL

Vitali Kravtsov and his team Traktor Chelyabinsk qualified for the KHL playoffs today before they even hit the ice. The only remaining team that could knock them out of eighth place, Sibir Novosibirsk, lost today to Avtomobilist.

It is the second consecutive year for Kravtsov to be playing in the postseason in Russia. Last year, he had a strong postseason that saw him climb up the draft rankings with 11 points in 16 games, which is the most by any teenager in a single KHL postseason. His team lost to the eventual champions AK Bars in the conference finals. His strong postseason saw Kravtsov win rookie of the year honors over Nashville Predators prospect Eeli Tolvanen. In addition, if you include the Russian Superleague (RSL), which was in existence from 1992-93 – 2007-08, Kravtsov’s 11 points in the 2018 Gagarin Cup Playoffs were tied for the third-most by a teenager in one playoff year since 1992-93. Since 1992-93, the only teenagers who recorded more points than Kravtsov in one playoff year in Russia’s highest league of professional hockey were Maxim Afinogenov (16 in 1998-99) and Evgeni Malkin (15 in 2005-06), and he is tied for first among 18-year-olds in points in one playoff year over the span.

In the first round, Traktor will take on Avtomobilist, the team that clinched it for them today, and Rangers fans will see a familiar face on that team, Nigel Dawes, who is second in the KHL in goals behind Kirill Kaprizov. What does this mean for Kravtsov’s plans to come to North America? The graph below will explain it to you:

If Kravtsov decides to come over on an entry-level contract, it is most likely only in the summer, and there are two reasons for this. First, his ELC cannot slide. Kravtsov was born in 1999 and will likely sign his ELC in 2019, the calendar year of his 20th birthday. Therefore, his contract is not “slide eligible” and will count the moment he plays his first game in the NHL. Secondly, the Seattle expansion draft in 2021 changes things as well. If the ELC counts this season, Kravtsov needs protection for the expansion draft. If his ELC kicks in over the summer (July 1st), he would be exempt.

Later today, Kravtsov plays in the penultimate game of the season against Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod and their final game on Friday will be against SKA St. Petersburg, the team of fellow Rangers prospect Igor Shestyorkin.

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