Former New York Rangers 1st round pick Vitali Kravtsov appears to be heading back to the NHL and could be a very interesting target for the rebuilding Montreal Canadiens.
Ivan Savin, the general manager Traktor Chelyabinsk, told Sports.Ru that New York Rangers prospect, Vitali Kravtsov, has refused a recent contract offer and is likely headed back to the NHL.
“Vitali Kravtsov did not accept the offer of the club, he did not explain the reasons for the refusal. Although we made an offer in full accordance with his requirements,” said Savin in Russian. “Apparently, Kravtsov decided to go overseas to play. But I think that he needs to spend a full season at Traktor and then go to the NHL.”
Vitali Kravtsov’s road to the NHL has been pretty rocky, as he’s had difficulty getting consistent playing time when suiting up for the Rangers. Kravtsov is a little lost in the shuffle in New York, due to playing behind veteran wingers like Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider, all while fighting for ice time with top prospects Alexis Lafrenière and Kappo Kakko. Kravtsov and the Rangers had come to an agreement that the youngster could forgo being loaned to the AHL, in favour of being loaned back to his KHL club, Chelyabinsk Traktor.
With the Montreal Canadiens having reportedly had talks with the New York Rangers prior to the NHL Trade Deadline regarding some of their top prospects, a returning Kravtsov could be of great interest to them, as the youngster looks for a fresh start in the NHL.
Montreal Canadiens Could Circle Back
Before the NHL Trade Deadline, TSN Insider Pierre Lebrun reported that the Canadiens and the Rangers were in discussion leading up to the NHL Trade deadline, with the Canadiens particularly interested in some of the Ranger’s prospects. That makes a ton of sense since Gorton drafted the grand majority of New York’s current prospect pool.
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
Kravtsov fits a glaring need in the Montreal Canadiens prospect pool: a big, skilled top-6 winger in the making. 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 St. Louis.
With the hiring of Nick Bobrov as the Co-Director of Amateur Scouting, things become even more interesting on this front. 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 in 2018. 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.