Vitali Kravtsov situation with Rangers nearing a boiling point

It all started optimistically for Vitali Kravtsov and the New York Rangers this season. He came over from Russia very early in the summer in order to begin training for camp after signing a one-year extension.

Let’s face it, this is no ordinary prospect thanks to being the 9th overall selection in 2018. Add in his tumultuous past with the organization, which includes bolting the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack twice and requesting a trade before the start of last season only increases the intrigue.

“I’ve definitely made a lot of noise previously so there’s this necessity to redeem myself a little bit,” Kravtsov said in September. “I just want to do what everyone else is doing. Put in the work, get on the team, and do my part.”

Vitali Kravtsov situation

vitali kravtsov
Oct 25, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers right wing Vitali Kravtsov (74) checks Colorado Avalanche defenseman Josh Manson (42) into the boards at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Tom Horak-USA TODAY Sports

Kravtsov has only played in six games this season with a single assist. His lone point came in an 8-2 blowout against the Detroit Red Wings, which was also his last game. Otherwise, he hasn’t been able to do much when he’s played.

And that’s the biggest problem for Kravtsov, getting into and staying in the lineup.

There’s no question that the 22 year-old is a talented winger with decent speed, good vision, a nice shot, and excellent hands. The issue is he’s a raw talent that has struggled to adjust to the smaller ice surface and faster pace of the NHL. You could make an argument that a couple of his injuries this season have been a result of those factors.

His first injury came early in the team’s first game of the season when a heavier Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning put him into the boards and knocked him out with an upper-body injury.

It took Kravtsov four games to suit up again. He played one full match before hurting his arm against the Colorado Avalanche and missing the next game versus the New York Islanders. The issue was minor allowing him to play in Dallas where he suffered another upper-body injury due to bad body position on a hit along the boards.

After missing another four contests, Kravtsov played and finished the next two games versus the Isles and Wings. Then a stomach bug and a tooth infection took him out of the lineup again. He was cleared after two games but continues to sit out as a healthy scratch for the last four.

You can chalk up the last few scratches to the Rangers playing well on the road but it was expected he’d be back for tomorrow’s matchup against the Edmonton Oilers. However per the NY Post’s Larry Brooks, he was skating as an extra today which indicates another healthy scratch is in the cards.

Kravtsov trade watch is on

I’ve always held onto the notion that no matter what Kravtsov did this season, GM Chris Drury was going to trade him.

Obviously, the team’s hope was that he’d produce and be a valuable commodity at the trade deadline for a rental. At this point, unless he get’s back in the lineup and explodes offensively, it’s hard to see the pending RFA being anything more than a throw in.

The Rangers could also be looking at Kravtsov to be used sooner than the trade deadline as piece for a veteran left defenseman to pair with Braden Schneider.

“The question is, what are you doing to the kid mentally,” Newsday’s Colin Stephenson told us. “I can see them moving on from him. Someone needs to want him, similar to Lias Andersson. He has to get back on the ice first to show he can play in the league because we just don’t know.”

Bottom line, the more Kravtsov sits the more his value plummets. If Gerard Gallant refuses to use him and the Rangers can’t send him down to the Wolf Pack because of waivers a trade is inevitable.

The situation with Vitali Kravtsov is reaching a boiling point. He either starts playing or the Rangers trade him soon.

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