Vitali Kravtsov’s time in New York has been nothing short of dramatic. Ever since the Rangers drafted him 8th overall in the 2018 draft, it has been a rocky road with the Russian player. Whether it was Kravtsov not reporting to Hartford after being sent down or the coaches and management not going him a chance to play, there is always something going on with him.
It seems that his time as a Rangers is coming to an end by the March 3rd trade deadline, so let’s see what went wrong with Vitali Kravtsov as a New York Ranger.
When the Rangers drafted Kravtsov in 2018, the fanbase was not happy. Many thought that the Rangers reached for Kravtsov and could have gotten him later in the draft and should’ve taken a different player with that pick. This was the same situation that happened the year prior when the Rangers took Lias Andersson at 7th overall in 2017.
Both Andersson and Kravtsov have ended up in similar situations as Andersson was unhappy in New York and was traded to the Kings. Kravtsov is unhappy and is likely to be traded by the trade deadline on March 3rd and the Rangers will likely receive a mid-round draft pick or another player who needs a change of scenery.
Kravtsov played well after his draft year in Russia and spent the next season split between Russia and the AHL in Hartford. When Kravtsov didn’t make the team prior to the 2019-20 season, he used the out-clause in his contract and went to the KHL and when the KHL season ended, he played in Hartford.
He finally played his first games for the Rangers during the 2020-21 season and he scored two goals. When he did not make the team for the 2021-22 season, he requested a trade out of New York and went back to play in Russia. The Rangers shopped him around, but there was no interest and the Rangers held on to him. He made the team for the 2022-23 season but has rarely gotten the chance to play and show what he is made of.
Head coach Gerard Gallant has frequently said that Kravtsov is a top-nine player and does not want to play him on the fourth line. Gallant feels that he has not earned a top-nine spot and has frequently scratched him for long stretches this season. He has played 28 games and has scored 3 goals and has a total of 6 points.
He also suffered two injuries early on in the season which did not help him stay in the lineup. Gallant feels that Kravtsov needs to be stronger on the puck and needs to play a full 200-foot game. Since he is not getting playing time in New York, Kravtsov has yet again requested a trade from the organization, and this time, it seems more likely that it will happen.
So who is to blame for all the drama? Well, both sides have to take part in the blame. On Kravtsov’s side, instead of going back to Russia multiple times, he could’ve worked hard down in Hartford and worked his way back to the NHL.
On the coaching side, Gallant has rarely given him a good amount of games to find his groove. He was supposed to play in the top six but has not gotten that opportunity. Overall, the Vitali Kravtsov saga has both sides to blame and the final chapter will be written in the next couple of weeks.