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Vitaly Kravtsov Back in Hartford Wolf Pack Lineup Tonight

Kravtsov makes his return to the Rangers’ AHL affiliate

Russian junior ice hockey team welcomed at Sheremetyevo International Airport Photo by Denis Tyrin\TASS via Getty Images

New York Rangers prospect Vitaly Kravtsov is back in North America after a brief stint in the KHL with Traktor Chelyabinsk. Tonight, he will make his return to the Hartford Wolf Pack’s lineup at 7:00 p.m. against the Charlotte Checkers.

Back in October, Kravtsov picked up one assist and registered zero shots on goal in five appearances with the Wolf Pack. Head coach Kris Knoblauch made him a healthy scratch after the Russian winger made his AHL debut on Oct. 5, which raised quite a few eyebrows. After playing with Hartford on Oct. 19, Kravtsov, 19, went on a dismaying albeit short-lived odyssey in Russia. He picked up three points in 11 games with Traktor and and two assists in three games for their VHL affiliate before his ice time was slashed and Chelyabinsk decided it wanted to move him. The Rangers decided to take control of the situation and recalled him to North America.

Kravtsov’s return to the AHL gives the Rangers much more control over the development of one of their most crucial prospects. This, of course, has added significance in light of the disappointing first chapters of Lias Andersson’s 2019-20 campaign. The good news for Kravtsov is that the Wolf Pack are a good team this year. The bad news is that Filip Chytil, who was by far the team’s best skater in the first month of the season, is in New York.

Hartford’s most productive forwards at this stage of the season are all veterans — Steven Fogarty, Vinni Lettieri, Danny O’Regan, Phil Di Giuseppe, and Boo Nieves. Naturally, Knoblach and the Rangers’ front office will want to see Kravtsov apply his skill in a top-six role playing significant minutes. There’s a good chance he could be playing with Andersson, but we’ll have to wait and see how the lines shake out.

Hartford is currently tied for fourth in the AHL standings with the Providence Bruins with a record of 16-5-7.