There’s been plenty of drama around former first round pick – 2018, 9th overall – since he was drafted by the Rangers, and it continued today with a report that the Rangers have given the 22 year old Russian permission to talk to other teams in order to facilitate a trade.
Kravtsov was one of the last two players cut by the Rangers yesterday, as they set their roster for the season opener on Wednesday. Injured in the preseason, Kravtsov did manage a goal in the finale, but failed to impress enough, and ultimately lost his spot to a combination of productive performances by Sammy Blais and Dryden Hunt, both of whom are projected to be in the starting line-up.
Hastening the decision, is that Kravtsov has reportedly refused assignment to Hartford and is expected to be suspended by the team.
Two years ago, Kravtsov had a similar negative reaction to missing the cut, and ultimately returned to Russia after being ineffectual in Hartford. The young winger struggled in the return to his homeland, and admitted later that his poor performances were on him, and how he handled the demotion. Last year he performed well in the KHL, becoming a consistent goalscorer, and ended up making his NHL debut with the Rangers after completing the season in Russia.
Should Kravtsov work out a trade deal, then he’ll follow in the footsteps of fellow first rounder Lias Andersson, who also departed the Rangers after failing to impress and feeling that he wasn’t given enough opportunity.
For the Rangers, the complicating factor has been the excess of wingers on the team, and attempting to fit Kravtsov’s top six skill set into a remade bottom six, ultimately proved undesirable. His status as waiver exempt, also made it easier for Chris Drury to choose to send him down, rather than risk the loss of one of the depth players like Julien Gauthier or Libor Hajek.
With the trade of Pavel Buchnevich over the Summer, and the potential loss of Kravtsov, the Rangers right wing stocks are suddenly a lot thinner than they were previously. The top two prospect wingers in the organization – Will Cuylle and Brennan Othmann – are both left wingers, with Lauri Pajuniemi and Karl Henriksson the next in line on the right side.