2021 Report Card: Gauthier, Di Giuseppe, Kravtsov

Let’s talk about three depth forwards

It’s time for that annual Blueshirt Banter report card where we mash a few players together. Why does this happen? Well, most of the time it’s because we saw very little of said players, which results in us giving them “incomplete” grades. And sometimes it’s because we feel they don’t warrant a full report card given their role on the team and/or the chances that they might not be back next season.

This time around the three players sharing a report card post are all forwards: Julien Gauthier, Phil Di Giuseppe, and Vitaly Kravtsov.

Julien Gauthier

Gauthier dressed in 30 games for the Rangers this season but averaged just 9:39 TOI/GP. So, we did technically see more of him than we did last year (8:39 TOI/GP) — which is what we all wanted — but not by much. With that said, it wasn’t much of a surprise that he finished the year with underwhelming boxcar stats: two goals, 11 assists, and 14 PIM.

The big winger’s most common linemates at 5-on-5 were Kevin Rooney and Filip Chytil, which isn’t awful but it also illustrates where he was in the lineup. He finished second from the bottom in Rel CF% (-3.64) among Rangers forwards, was sixth in Rel xGF% (0.78), finished in the green (+3) in penalty differential.

Overall, Gauthier was fine and showed flashes of being quite a bit more than that — but they were only ever flashes. The Rangers were probably hoping he would adapt more to a fourth-line role and use his speed and big body to rattle the boards and raise hell on the forecheck. You know, be the kind of player that made the Rangers hard to play against. He took the body and occasionally displayed the downhill speed that gives him the potential to be a middle-six winger but, more often than not, he was lost in the noise.

Gotta Grade ‘Em: C

Phil Di Giuseppe

Di Giuseppe played essentially the same role he had in his first season with the Rangers in 2019-20. Averaging 11:06 TOI/GP, he was a depth forward that was expected to bring energy and pace to the lineup. Ultimately, he was outshined by Kevin Rooney and the unexpected production of Colin Blackwell. The emergence of other depth forwards made PDG something of an afterthought this year.

The former Hurricane was the Rangers’ Swiss army knife on the fourth line and a fine 13th forward but his numbers provided little inspiration. In 30 games, Di Giuseppe scored one goal and earned seven assists to go along with 13 PIM. He led the Rangers in Hits/60 at 5-on-5 by a wide margin (14.12) and worked his tail off. In short, Di Giuseppe did Di Giuseppe things. He just wasn’t the most noticeable depth forward on the team this go around.

Di Giuseppe has signed a one-year deal with the Vancouver Canucks, so his days in New York are done. It looks like the Rangers were ready to move on and go with a different Swiss army knife.

Gotta Grade ‘Em: C+

Vitaly Kravtsov

In 20 games Kravtsov had two goals and two assists while averaging 12:24 TOI/GP. Not exactly the numbers you want to see out of a guy you’re hoping can be a scoring line winger but, hey, this was a crazy year and he’s 21. So, you want to try and give him the benefit of the doubt, but we were singing a similar tune last year in his even more chaotic year where he bounced from the AHL to the KHL to the VHL to the AHL.

If we’re inclined to evaluate Kravtsov by the entire year, including what he did in the KHL with Traktor Chelyabinsk, then he’s going to get a much better review. In Russia, the young winger had 16 goals to share the team lead in lighting the lamp and had eight assists. So, he scored a bunch on a bad team. That’s always encouraging, especially for a young guy.

In New York, he just didn’t make much of a mark but that is hardly surprising considering where he played and who he played with. Kravtsov is a skilled player. He makes things happen when he has the puck on his stick. His most common linemates with the Rangers at 5-on-5 were Kevin Rooney (97:22) and the recently traded Brett Howden (78:30) — hardly a dangerous trio.

I am inclined to give Kravtsov the benefit of the doubt here because of his age but, truth be told, I wanted to see more flashes of the skill that made the Rangers select him 9th overall in the 2018 Draft. He didn’t look good as a fourth-liner because that’s not his game. Kravtsov just ended up blending in. The Rangers are going to need him to be a lot more than a background player in 2021-22 after dealing Pavel Buchnevich to St. Louis. A heck of a lot more.

Gotta Grade ‘Em: C-

Data courtesy of Evolving-Hockey.com and naturalstattrick.com.