Could the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers hook up on the NHL trade market?
There’s been plenty of NHL trade talk surrounding the Canadiens with some naturally linking them to the New York Rangers as trade partners since former Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton was hired by the Habs as their new executive vice president back in late November 28. TSN’s Pierre Lebrun added further fuel to that fire last week by stating that the Canadiens had interest in a few Rangers prospects. That makes a ton of sense since Gorton drafted the grand majority of New York’s current prospect pool.
There are quite a few players to choose from in New York, who hold one of the deepest and best prospect pools in the league. Vitali Kravtsov, Nils Lundkvist, Will Cuylle, Matthew Robertson, Braden Schneider, Brennan Othmann, Brett Berard and the list keeps going. Any of these players would be a major addition for the Canadiens, but one seems to be standing out above others as a potential target and he’s actually been involved in numerous NHL trade rumours for the better part of the last year: Vitali Kravstov.
Keep an eye on the Rangers and the Habs between now and March 21. I think Montreal covets some Rangers prospects. Habs could fill some Rangers needs. Montreal would rather add prospects over picks. Already have 12 picks for the July draft. Rangers' pipeline drawing Habs interest
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) February 16, 2022
Who is Vitali Kravtsov?
The skilled winger from Vladivostok, Russia, was drafted 9th overall by the New York Rangers in the 2018 NHL Draft. At the time he was seen as a riser in the draft due to his exceptional skills as a puck handler and his elite vision. Combine that skillset with a 6’3 frame weighing in at 180 lbs (he’s not listed at 193lbs) and you had yourself quite the specimen to work with. Unfortunately, after coming over from the KHL, Kravtsov didn’t seem to mesh under the playing style of now-former head coach David Quinn. Rather than being sent down to Hartford, the Rangers’ AHL affiliate, Kravtsov, proposed to be loaned to his KHL club, Chelyabinsk Traktor and the Rangers began to shop his rights on the NHL trade market. Kravstov has been solid in the KHL this season, putting up six goals and seven assists for 13 points in 19 games.
Welcome to the Show!
Congrats to Vitali Kravtsov on his first career NHL goal. 👊
— NHL (@NHL) April 18, 2021
Why Vitali Kravtsov?
It’s true, the Montreal Canadiens have bigger needs on the NHL trade market, specifically on the right side of their defence and up the middle as it pertains to their prospect pool. Many would rather target Braden Schneider, who is likely untouchable, or Nils Lundkvist as they’re both coveted, right-shot defensemen. The truth is, Lundkvist like also one of the players of interest that Lebrun alluded to in his tweet, but I believe the easiest prospect to extract out of New York would be Kravtsov. He possesses the speed, skills and dynamic range of abilities needed to be a top-6 forward, and he can play on both wings. In Montreal, he wouldn’t have to fight for ice time with the likes of Chris Kreider, Artemi Panarin, Kappo Kakko and Alexis Lafrenière; meaning he’d have the opportunity to play in offensive situations and grow his game under the tutelage of Martin Saint-Louis.
The Signs Are There
With the recent hiring of Nick Bobrov as the Co-Director of Amateur Scouting, things are starting to line up and the NHL trade rumours linking the two teams are increasing. Bobrov was the Director of European Scouting for the New York Rangers between 2015 and 2021 and was directly implicated in the selection of Kravtsov and Lundkvist in 2018 and 2019 respectively. With Vitali Kravtsov having asked for a trade earlier this season, and Bobrov joining the Canadiens, the connections seem to line up quite perfectly. Kent Hughes has mentioned wanting to build a fast and skilled team, and Kravtsov would be the perfect kind of gamble for the Canadiens to make at the right price.
The first thing that came to my mind with the Bobrov hire was: Kravtsov will be a Hab by deadline.
That's my prediction and no, I won't speculate on what that trade would look like. Just a gut feeling.
— Marco D'Amico (@mndamico) February 18, 2022