Vitaly Kravtsov was unable to return to the New York Rangers lineup, a team in search of secondary scoring. This is one of the main reasons why Gerard Gallant chose to reunite the children’s line, thus removing Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko from the top six.
Bad luck and dental infections aside, Kravtsov is a talented forward who was named ninth overall in 2018, but doesn’t seem to be gaining any traction with the Blueshirts.
“Every time he got on the ice he got hurt,” Gerard Gallant said after Kravtsov was injured in Dallas on October 29. “It’s a shame.”
He returned to the lineup for two games against the Islanders and Red Wings, where he had his only point (an assist) in blowing out Detroit 8-2. He then fell ill again with a dental infection and missed the last four in a row.
Kravtsov, 22, has been allowed to travel on this wild four-game ride, leaving him a healthy scratch in the last two contests.
Vitaly Kravtsov is struggling to break into the Rangers lineup
This has been a really tough season for Kravtsov, who desperately wants to show the Rangers and the NHL what he can do.
Rangers have played 19 games this season and have only managed to dress in six of them. Moreover, he only managed to finish three of those contests after sustaining injuries against the Lightning (Opening Night 10/11), Avalanche (10/25), and Stars (10/29).
“I feel great,” Kravtsov said before facing the islands on 8/11. “I’m going to build confidence. Play well, help the team, help myself. Play hard and fast. I feel so much better now than a week or a month ago.”
Sadly, that good feeling only lasted twice before a tooth infection sidelined him again.
Kravtsov is not versatile enough
The biggest problem with Kravtsov’s inability to break the line-up was playing two other right-wingers in Julien Gauthier and Jimmy Vesey.
Gauthier, 25, has 3 goals and 4 points in 11 games since being called up from the Hartford Wolf Pack. Another former first-round pick, the big and quick winger is making the most of the opportunity. His latest goal was a massive one scored last night in a slick game against the San Jose Sharks.
“It was a nice little bonus,” Gauthier said after the 2-1 win. “My line-mates and I had a good game, we put a lot of pucks at the net. I felt like this win was good for our group. We held on and got two points.”
Currently, the Quebec native plays on the fourth line and thrives. His physical and quick style allows him to be very effective in the Gallant foreclosure check system. Just ask Ryan Reaves how well Gauthier does.
Jimmy Vesey also has a place in the lineup on the first line due to his ability to play gritty and sluggish recovery.
The 29-year-old came to camp on PTO playing for his life in hockey. With his hard work and ability to kill penalties, Vesey landed a one-year deal. This season, he has 2 goals (one shorthanded) and 6 points in 18 games.
Vesey and Gauthier both play a north-south style that suits the needs of Rangers in their respective lines. Kravtsov is a skilful winger who plays more than one East-West game in which the team has more than enough in the squad.
Ultimately, Kravtsov will be back out there and will need to show that he can play a more varied game. That doesn’t mean he has to abandon the style that got him here, but if he wants to gain a foothold in the line-up he’ll need to play more aggressively.
It will also need to start recording as well. This will really keep it there.
Kravtsov signed a one-way, one-year deal this summer and will be at RFA in July. He remains a potential commercial candidate for a Deadline trade-in lease.
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