New York Rangers: Vitali Kravtsov’s KHL Season So Far

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 29: New York Rangers Right Wing Vitali Kravtsov (74) celebrates after he scores during New York Rangers Prospect Development Camp on June 29, 2018 at the MSG Training Center in New York, NY. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 29: New York Rangers Right Wing Vitali Kravtsov (74) celebrates after he scores during New York Rangers Prospect Development Camp on June 29, 2018 at the MSG Training Center in New York, NY. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

The New York Rangers have a number of Russian prospects currently competing in the KHL. Tonight, we take a look at how Vitali Kravtsov’s season is going.

For a while, the New York Rangers were often hesitant to take Russian prospects. The uncertainty of their dedication to North America, as well as the death of Alexei Cherepanov, almost certainly made Rangers scouts a little gun shy in the draft when it came to picking players from Russia, especially those in the KHL.

The success of Pavel Buchnevich seems to have changed that mindset a little. A year after that pick, the Rangers took Igor Shestyorkin. The Rangers then traded for young Yegor Rykov and Vladislav Namestnikov. Continuing that trend, the Rangers selected Vitali Kravtsov in the 2018 draft…and seemed rather dead set on that decision from the get go.

Last year, Kravtsov was up and down in the lineup for the KHL’s Traktor Chelyabinsk, until, of course, the playoffs came around. It was last year’s playoffs during which Kravtsov truly made a name for himself. After that outburst, and his draft selection, many were wondering just how he would do given a larger role.

Let’s take a look at how his season is going, and what his closest comparables are:

Kravtsov in the KHL

So far, Kravtsov has scored three goals and three assists in 17 games for the KHL’s Traktor Chelyabinsk. Now, on paper, that might not seem so great, but last season, Kravtsov had three goals and four assists in a whopping 35 regular season games, so he is already off to a better pace than last year.

One thing to note is that Traktor is a very bad team this year. They are a team that is severely lacking defensive structure, and also has very little in terms of support for Kravtsov, who would have many more points if even half of the plays he has made were able to be finished. His linemate for most of the season, Ryan Stoa, has developed a reputation for neutering just about every chance Kravtsov creates.

This poor play all year came to a head when Traktor chose to fire their coach, former NHLer German Titov. Hopefully, whoever takes over can find better line combinations and retool the defense to make them somewhat competitive. Every little bit of improvement will make a huge difference for Kravtsov.

Another thing to note is that young players in the KHL do not often produce on the scoresheet very much. This comes down to a heavy veteran culture that Russia, as well as many other European hockey leagues, has developed over history. This is usually a result of less than helpful ice time, making it tough for teenagers, no matter how good, to gain their footing.

For example, in his first post-draft season, Vladimir Tarasenko scored just nine goals and ten assists in 42 games. This is about the same pace that Kravtsov is currently on. Keeping that in mind, don’t fear for what may appear on his stat sheet, as it matters very little in regards to his future. What does matter is what Kravtsov’s on ice impact looks like, and so far, he has been a very impressive presence with a stroke of bad luck.

Next. Filip Chytil Should Remain On The Wing Short Term. dark

So what does this season mean for Kravtsov, and for the Rangers? A lot, and not much at the same team. Ignore the score sheet for a little and just focus on what he is actually doing on the ice, and you’ll notice that he is incredibly impactful. The stats will come with time, or they may not; regardless, the talent is there and it will carry over strongly to North America, in time.