The New York Rangers are loaning Vitali Kravtsov to Traktor Chelyabinsk for the remainder of the 2021-22 season.
OFFICIAL: #NYR have loaned forward Vitali Kravtsov to the Traktor Chelyabinsk of the KHL.— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) November 3, 2021
Both Kravtsov and President Chris Drury made statements about the move.
to work with him to reach our mutual goal of him some day being a New York Ranger.”— Mollie Walker (@MollieeWalkerr) November 3, 2021
to return to Traktor and work on my game is the best thing for me right now. My main focus is getting better every day to continue towards my goal of playing hockey for the New York Rangers.”— Mollie Walker (@MollieeWalkerr) November 3, 2021
Kravtsov’s future with the team remains up in the air, but this temporarily defuses the tension between both sides, and takes the focus off a trade request. Now Kravtsov can go play where he’s comfortable, and the Rangers can continue on with their season.
If Kravtsov plays well for Traktor, and he should at this point in his professional career, it opens the door for him to return to the team and provide a boost during what will hopefully be a stretch run to the playoffs. If he doesn’t, that’s bad for both parties, and would certainly make things harder when it comes to facilitating a trade.
In 148 career KHL games, Kravtsov’s posted a line of 30-25-55. Last year he tallied 16 goals and 24 points in 49 games which was his best KHL season to date, and then he joined the Rangers. For all the kvetching that’s gone on regarding his situation, he only turns 22 in December. There’s still a lot of time for both sides to figure things out, and he’d hardly be the first top-10 pick who took a little longer than normal to make an NHL impact. Conversely, he wouldn’t be the first top-10 pick to fail to make an impact too.
Obviously a good deal of the shine has worn away, but this latest stint provides an outlet to change the conversation. It makes sense for both sides to play nice in public and try and work things out, because the way things were going before didn’t make either side happy.
If I were to make a prediction, I would wager that it is still more likely that Kravtsov’s immediate future isn’t with the Rangers, but stranger things have happened. Maybe this could be like when Mats Zuccarello — who played a lot better at the time than Kravtsov has to this point — decided to go to the KHL after things not going the way he wanted in North America. And then he came back and became a real impact player.
Not saying this is going to happen, but the bottom line is that there’s still time for this story to develop a better ending for all parties involved. Here’s to hoping Kravtsov has a great return to the KHL, and things work out in a way that allows him to suit up for the Rangers, or generate a trade return that pushes the franchise forward.