As the New York Rangers entered the second year of the David Quinn era, an influx of youth was expected to lead the way as they began their ascent back to Stanley Cup contender status. One of those players was Vitali Kravtsov, the Blueshirts’ ninth overall selection in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. After spending his first post-draft season in the KHL, Kravtsov agreed to an entry-level contract with New York over the summer, and was expected to be play steady minutes in the team’s top nine throughout the season.
That hasn’t happened. Questionable roster decisions at the end of training camp saw Kravtsov begin the season in AHL Hartford while the likes of Greg McKegg, Micheal Haley, and Brendan Smith took regular shifts up front. If there was ever a time for Kravtsov to be on Broadway, it was now. With the Blueshirts opting against recalling Kravstov, the Russian winger has opted to exercise his KHL out clause, and will return to Traktor Chelyabinsk of the KHL, per Larry Brooks:
Vitali Kravstov signing with KHL Chelyabinsk, as per assignment clause agreement, Post has learned.— Larry Brooks (@NYP_Brooksie) October 25, 2019
Kravstov’s exit comes on the heels of a brief tenure in Hartford, where he scored one assist in three games, sat as a healthy scratch, and was benched multiple times by the Wolfpack’s first year coaching staff. He had spent a majority of the last two seasons with Traktor, posting a 12-16-28 stat line in 85 regular season games, as well as 6-7-13 in 20 playoff contests.
Rangers could recall him at any time this season. Assignment clause is for this year only. Kravtsov played one game with AHL Wolf Pack with one assist, was scratched second game of season and benched for long stretches of two other matches.— Larry Brooks (@NYP_Brooksie) October 25, 2019
Although Kravstov can be recalled to the NHL at any point this season, that outcomes seems unlikely until the trade deadline at the earliest. With the Rangers currently icing AHL-caliber forwards and NHL defenseman over Kravtsov, the team’s top winger prospect saw the writing on the wall, and will head back overseas until the opportunity he’s already earned becomes available to him.
Rangers did/do not want to make this an adversarial relationship. Worked with Kravtsov's agent...Would be wildly counterproductive to attempt to hold him hostage in Hartford.— Larry Brooks (@NYP_Brooksie) October 25, 2019
The Rangers are fine with what he is doing, and ultimately we will see what happens on if he comes back this season.