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Vitali Kravtsov to remain in KHL for completion of Traktor's season

November 12, 2020, 9:53 AM ET [29 Comments]
Jan Levine
New York Rangers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Larry Brooks touched on a handful of topics, impacting the 2020-21 roster. Some appear to be fact while others are speculation in terms of player alignment. Of the list, we covered the majority in this blog, but the information Brooks provided is worth us discussing. in this blog, I am covering his Vitali Kravtsov news and will cover the rest in a separate blog, focusing especially on Morgan Barron.

Vitali Kravtsov:

The Post has confirmed that while the Blueshirts have the contractual right to recall Kravtsov at any time, there is an understanding that the winger will complete the season in Russia before he’d be summoned to North America.

The KHL season, which has been conducted through numerous positive tests for COVID-19 — that is an anecdotal representation of the situation through discussions with NHL personnel and player agents, given that positives and cases are not reported — is scheduled to end on Feb. 27. The playoffs would conclude April 30.

The NHL remains focused on starting on Jan. 1, or shortly thereafter. If that becomes the case, and, say, Traktor, currently third in their division at 15-9, goes a couple of rounds deep into the KHL tournament, Kravtsov would theoretically become free to join the Blueshirts toward the end of March, which might be about halfway through the NHL season.

Kravtsov has drawn praise not only for his production (eight goals, three assists in 17 games), but for his work habits and the development of his 200-foot game. If his evolution continues, Kravtsov will be in much better position to claim a spot in New York when he returns to North America. And the Rangers’ left wing/right wing imbalance would be addressed.

Kravtsov went through a difficult first season in North America, resulting in him returning to Russia during the year, before being part of the Rangers' practices as part of the play-in round. The growth he showed after returning home last year has carried forward into the early part of Traktor's schedule. Kravtsov, as Brooks noted, looks like a much different player than he did a year ago.

Keeping Kravtsov in Russia until the end of that season, presuming the NHL 2020-21 campaign begins around January 1, enables the Blueshirts to manage the performance bonuses cushion required against the cap. If Kravtsov comes over anywhere from March to May, depending on when the NHL regular season ends, that will limit the potential bonus and impact on the cap. In addition, if Kravtsov does remain overseas, that might allow Morgan Barron, see more on him in my next blog, to break camp with the team, as the team's projected cap space might allow for one more player on an ELC with performance bonuses to earn a spot.

When Kravtsov does come over, look for him somewhere in the top-nine. Positioning and placement might be determined by who has shifted from left to right wing. If Alexis Lafreniere, remote, or Chris Kreider, more likely, does swap sides from left to right wing, then Kravtsov might slot in on the third line right wing. If neither move and room is available when Kravtsov comes over, then a second line spot could be an option, also dependent on where Pavel Buchnevich lines up.

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