Vitali Kravtsov expected in New York today, will begin process to join Rangers

The New York Rangers are ready to welcome their 2018 first round draft pick Vitali Kravtsov today. The 21 year-old posted a photo on his IG account and the Blueshirts social media followed it up with a note that read, “See you soon, Kravy.”

Kravtsov is expected to land in New York today and start the process to join the team.

Vitali Kravtsov on way to New York

The 9th overall selection in 2018 has a strong season in the KHL where his work ethic and defense was praised. He finished the season with 16 goals and 24 points in 49 games. In the playoffs he kept up his strong play with two goals and four points in Traktor’s 5 game elimination. He finishes his KHL career with 18 points in 31 playoff games. The Rangers hope he brings his post season play to Broadway.

vitali kravtsov
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 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.

Where to play Vitali Kravtsov?

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

Many are clamoring for a line featuring Alexis Lafrenière 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 – especially 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.

However that seems doubtful with how strong the KZB line was yesterday in their 4-0 win over the Bruins. So let’s assume Colin Blackwell will be moved back to a 4th line role in two weeks, could we see Vitali Kravtsov promoted to a top six role with Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome off the bat?

It would make some sense if the Rangers would like to showcase him for a big trade for a center this offseason. Although I would prefer Kaapo Kakko back with the second line and see a new “kid line” with Filip Chytil centering Alexis Lafrenière and Kravtsov.

No cap concerns for Kravtsov and the Rangers

The Rangers will have some work to do because once Artemi Panarin is back they will have 23 men on the roster. They most certainly need to move players to the the taxi squad and that means waivers. As it was pointed out to me when I asked, the team has a lot of moving parts from now until he’s eligible to join the lineup. I would not rule out any trades in the next two weeks as well.

Moving parts aside, I wanted to make sure that the cap wouldn’t be an issue. Especially since Kravtsov has performance bonus impact. I reached out to our friends at PuckPedia and was given this succinct explanation.

Yesterday was a good day to look at the roster because on a game day the cap space is the smallest. As of yesterday, they have $1.09M of projected cap space. With half the season left, they could add a player with a $2.15M annual cap hit and finish right at the cap. As pointed out, because they’re over the performance bonus, Kravtsov will count as his $925K Cap Hit + $850K potential performance bonus, for a total of $1.775M annually.

So that means even without sending guys down on off-days, they can fit Kravtsov in right now.  If you push it back 14 days from now, they have even more room. Even if they just kept the current roster and didn’t send anyone down on off-days, that $1.09M of Projected Cap Space now (which can fit a $2.15M annual cap hit added today) can fit a $2.81M annual cap hit in 14 days. That will get even bigger if they send guys down on off days.

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