Despite being a top prospect in the New Yorks Rangers’ organization after being drafted ninth overall in 2018, things are apparently not going smoothly for Vitali Kravtsov. Kravtsov seemed to be a lock to make the Rangers’ roster out of training camp but was instead sent to the Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL where he seemed to have a tough time finding a niche.
After suiting up for five games in Hartford, Kravtsov decided to exercise a clause in his contract that would allow him to go back to Russia to play for Traktor Chelyabinsk of the KHL, a team he spent parts of three previous seasons with. After 11 games with Chelyabinsk, Kravtsov was then demoted to the team’s minor league affiliate in the VHL, which happens to be based in the same city.
So, what was the problem? Kravtsov had no trouble in the previous three seasons finding ice time with Traktor. According to the team’s CEO in an interview with Russian media outlet Sports.ru, Kravtsov returned from North American “dismantled and upset.” According to journalist Gillian Kemmerer, who covers the KHL, “dismantled” is the most direct translation of the Russian word Traktor CEO Boris Vidgof used in the interview. Vidgif did expand some on his quote.
“Of course, some exchanges are possible, but Vitaly Kravtsov remains in the club. The guy just came, the guy plays, not everything works out.”
It’s not always easy to decipher exactly what someone is attempting to say when translating from another language, but it sounds as though Kravtsov’s confidence was shaken after his stint in the AHL where he was a healthy scratch for a few games. That’s a tough situation for a 19-year-old to be in, especially when expectations are so high.
As we reported two days ago, Rangers GM Jeff Gorton is looking at the possibility of bringing Kravtsov back from Russia to return to the AHL. The point of him going to Russia was to get more ice time in a competitive league. Playing in the equivalent of the KHL’s minor league system isn’t really the best overall option. Let’s hope everything gets sorted out for Kravtsov’s and the Rangers’ sake.