The last few days, news surrounding 9th overall pick Vitali Kravtsov has surfaced. A temporary move back to Russia was mentioned, but Russian news agency Sport24 has now provided some insight in that potential move back to Russia.
In an article earlier today it was reported that a reunion with Traktor Chelyabinsk seems unlikely in the event of an assignment to the KHL. Kravtsov may not want to play for Peteris Skudra, The Latvian coach, who played for the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL in the late 90s and spent a few months in the Rangers organization as a goalie in Hartford, was appointed as the new head coach this summer after Kravtsov’s departure.
I have reached out to the team and they informed me that they can’t say anything definitive, but Kravtsov playing for a different KHL team is not out of the realm of possibilities.
Other teams interested in Kravtsov
With Traktor owning his KHL rights, the only way to play for another team in the KHL is if they sell/trade away his rights. Last season, there were talks with SKA St Petersburg but they could not reach an agreement. Traktor asked for 200 million rubles, which is roughly $3m. With the situation evolving, and SKA losing Nikita Gusev over the summer, talks could continue between the two teams. Avangard Omsk was another team that has been linked with Kravtsov but they only want to trade for his rights if they can sign him long-term, which is impossible as long as Kravtsov is under contract in the NHL. An assignment clause does not void a contract.
If Kravtsov opts to trigger his European Assignment Clause, it remains to be seen where he ends up but the first reports coming out of Russia seem to indicate that it won’t necessarily be Traktor Chelyabinsk. If a team like SKA is interested, and manages to acquire his rights, it would be a good development for the 19-year old winger who would get to play on a top team, with a potential deep play off run.
The next few weeks will determine what happens with Kravtsov and personally I feel the Kristian Vesalainen timeline is still the most likely. If that’s the case, Kravtsov could return to the KHL first week in November.