Who will transition to the NHL better: Fox or Kravtsov?
Anyone who knows anything about the NHL also knows that a prospect’s transition to the pros can take many different forms. Many are expecting Kaapo Kakko to waste no time making his mark in the league. While this will likely be the case, it might take Adam Fox and Vitali Kravtsov a little longer.
Both of these players are obviously extremely valuable but aren’t at that Kakko level. Therefore, they may have a hefty amount of growing pains. So the question is, how will those top prospects below Kakko transition in relation to each other. Both have undeniable talent but will experience very different trials and tribulations.
Fox has top-pairing potential, but it can be so hit or miss with defensive prospects because of how talented NHL forwards are. Of course, the Buffalo Sabres knew what they were getting in Rasmus Dahlin. But prospects who are not generational talents can be harder to judge. If Kevin Shattenkirk was still around, it would be easier for Fox since he wouldn’t play every day. But the Rangers made the right call there.
Kravtsov has top-six forward potential. If he really transitions well then perhaps even a top-line forward someday. That said, he’d have to be better than both Kakko and Artemi Panarin for that to happen.
When push comes to shove, Fox is going to have a much harder transition. I find that defensemen usually have more trouble than forwards. Especially on this team, which is weak on the back end, Fox is going to find himself often caught behind the play, chasing too much, or just out of position.
But that is okay. It is unreasonable to expect him to be a superstar from the get-go. The important thing with Fox will be learning from the mistakes, and he’ll make a lot of them. But with the modern NHL playing faster than ever, it’ll be hard for any rookie defenseman to really show his full ability.
Kravtsov will likely also have struggles, but it is a little different for forwards. There is more pressure on rookie defensemen than rookie forwards since there are only six blue-liners compared to 12 forwards. A mistake for a rookie defenseman is usually more costly than for a forward.
But Kravtsov also has more valuable experience than Fox. While the NCAA is a great place to go before being drafted, it doesn’t compare to the KHL, from which Kravtsov came. The KHL is considered by most to be the second-best league in the world behind the NHL.
Therefore, Kravtsov will likely be much better out of the gate since he has played at that higher level and will have a lot less pressure on him. These are two of the most exciting prospects in the Rangers organization. They won’t reach their full potential right away, but it should be very entertaining to watch them grow alongside this young roster.