June 30, 2020

Vitali Kravtsov opens up about mixed signals from Rangers this season

Kravtsov NYR (Getty Images)

Vitali Kravtsov is coming to New York. In an interview with Russian news outlet Sport-Express, the 20-year old prospect talked about his upcoming schedule. “The scheduled departure is July 3rd” Kravtsov said about his plans.

Vitali Kravtsov responds to criticism

Last season, Kravtsov used his European out clause to leave the Hartford Wolf Pack and return to the KHL. The criticism surrounding his decision was that he needed to grow up.

The Russian winger responded by saying, “I sincerely do not understand exactly what I should grow up in? I live alone, I can cook food at home. Seriously, I myself would like to understand the essence of those claims. I hope when I come to New York they will talk to me about this topic“.

There seems to have been a disconnect between player and team. Kravtsov says he didn’t talk to anyone except his agent and he never received any criticism or complaints through him.

Was Kravtsov going back to the KHL a mistake?

When asked about his move to Traktor, Kravtsov was clear. “I don’t think that was a mistake.” Vitali explained there were factors in Hartford that caused him to come to that decision. It simply didn’t work out as he had hoped.

You see, at first everything was very fine. Training camp, exhibition matches, everyone around me is smiling, and then the attitude changed dramatically. I was sent to Hartford and in the first game I spent only five minutes on the ice“, he explained.

When Kravtsov scored a pre-season goal, a lot of fans noticed he didn’t seem happy. “Well, I scored a goal. I was skating up the ice, they passed me the puck, I threw it on net and it went in. What is there to rejoice, this is an exibition game. You want to say that I was in a bad mood? I do not think so. I always smile, really“. It seems odd that people were looking for more enthusiasm on a pre-season goal and made something out of nothing.

Kravtsov’s KHL troubles and return back to the Rangers

After a short stint in the KHL, Kravtsov was sent to the VHL affiliate, which basically worse than going from the Rangers to the Pack. After only playing a few games, Kravtsov got a phone call from his agent at 2 AM to inform him he will fly back to the United States.

The Rangers reached out and wanted to get him back to North America. That decision came with a one-on-one talk with the coaching staff and from there, things started to look better. “As a result, there was that conversation with the coach, great progress in the game, more and more there was talk that I was about to be promoted to the NHL, however, this did not happen“.

Kravtsov felt he earned a call up late in the season, but it unfortunately for him, that was not the case. “I can’t talk about some things, some of which remained incomprehensible to me. So it’s better to completely forget about all this. It’s just that in this story there are no heroes or villains“.

Kravtsov’s Open to all Options

Kravtsov’s goal is to play, not just to sit in the stands to watch his teammates. “A huge challenge for me is to get that call up from the Rangers to finish the season. I have a great great desire to play, to go out on the ice and help the team.  I want to speak with an agent before leaving to clearly understand if they count on me“, he said.

Kravtsov is ready. He says that if there’s even the slightest chance he will play, he will get on that plane and fly to New York. If it’s just to see if he has matured, he does not see the point in traveling all that way. “I am ready. I really missed hockey. So I understand that the next season will begin only in January! Six months without hockey!

About his other options, Kravtsov says the following: “There’s the option to play somewhere on loan again. Finland, Russia or even Switzerland. Of course the AHL is a great option but there are reports that the season won’t start any time soon.” Kravtsov is ready for anything. Whether they trade him or have him in the organization for the next few years, he will be prepared for whatever is coming.

The team told me they see me in their plans for the next 10 years, and then I am told I am not ready for the NHL. I don’t understand“, he said about the conflicting reports and conversations he has had. It’s clear that Kravtsov has a goal and that he will do whatever it takes to reach that goal. From reading his comments, it feels like communication may be the issue here.

He doesn’t want to say too much about his preferences when it comes to linemates, but when asked where he sees himself in the line up he did say the following: “I would like to go out with those who create scoring changes oin the ice, not just dump the puck into the zone and check someone into the boards.”

Regarding the COVID-19 situation in the US, Kravtsov is clear: “Sometimes what is shown in the media, and what is actually happening, varies significantly. You have to go back and see for yourself. But there is no fear“. Kravtsov has been practicing in Vladivostok, where his dad lives. He has been on the ice despite the lockdown and when he flies over, he will be ready to go if the Rangers ask him to suit up.

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