One team’s loss is the New York Ranger’s gain.
Now that the KHL’s Traktor team has been eliminated from the playoffs, Vitali Kravtsov is expected to join the Rangers very soon. The ninth overall pick in 2018 NHL will have to go through a few pandemic and non-pandemic hurdles before playing in games. Kravtsov will have to go through the visa process in traveling from Russia to the states. He will have to satisfy the proper COVID-19 protocols, which should take roughly 10-to-14 days.
Kravtsov’s appearance in a Rangers jersey is eagerly anticipated, especially after having a fine season in the KHL. He finished the KHL season with 16 goals and 24 points in 49 games. Even though his Traktor team was eliminated in 5 games, Kravtsov did score two goals and have two assists in that round.
Now he brings his skills to broadway, but the big question will be on how the Rangers will use him in their lineup.
The New York Rangers should bring Kravtsov along somewhat slowly
Even though Kravtsov has been playing hockey, and playing well, he will unlikely jump right into the first two lines. The KHL is not the NHL. Having him jump into even a third line, along with possible young teammates of Alexis Lafreniere and Filip Chytil, is not likely.
Depending on how things shake out after satisfying protocols, Kravtsov could spend time on the taxi squad. The Rangers may decide to give him time to skate with and get acclimated with his new teammates. If ends up looking ready for NHL play, he will probably start on the fourth line. Many need to remember that he struggled to adapt to the North American game after signing his entry-level contract in May 2019.
After a tough 2019-20 season, Kravtsov did return for the summer restart, which seemed to reinforce his commitment. It was also reported that he participated in the summer session with an improved attitude. It was also reported from scouts and sources from the Rangers that noted his improved physicality, defensive-zone coverage, and willingness to work in dangerous areas of the ice.
Whether it is sometime later this year or at the beginning of next, Kravtsov will end up spending a lot of time in the top nine for the Blueshirts.
Head coach David Quinn believes that your line placement will be based on merit. However, at some point, the Rangers will want to see their young forward will more skilled players versus the fourth-line grinders.
Much of that will depend on how well Kravtsov has taken to heart the lessons he learned from last year.