Rangers or Vitali Kravtsov? Who is to blame for latest fallout of former 1st rounder?

Kravtsov asks for trade - are Rangers to blame?
New York Rangers right wing Vitali Kravtsov (74) passes the puck to Filip Chytil, left, as Ottawa Senators goalie Cam Talbot watches and defenseman Artem Zub goes to the ice during the second period of an NHL hockey game Friday, Dec. 2, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/John Munson)
AP Photos

For the second time in over a year, Vitali Kravtsov has requested a trade from the New York Rangers. 

According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, Kravtsov’s camp is looking for a change of scenery by the March 3rd deadline if he is not a part of the club’s immediate plans.

Kravtsov was a healthy scratch in New York’s 6-2 win over Carolina over the weekend, just a day after he played just under 11 minutes in the Rangers’ 6-3 win over Seattle. This also comes after the former first-round pick was a healthy scratch in each of the last four games. 

If there was doubt that potentially Kravtsov could have been in the team’s immediate plans, head coach Gerard Gallant squashed that on Monday. 

“He’s a top-nine player. Right now he’s not on our top nine, and he’s not going to be a fourth-line player. We like him, I like him. Kravy has come a long way this year. I’m putting my top 9 forwards out there. He’s not one of them right now” Gallant added courtesy of SNY on Monday. 

For a first-round pick with a bevy of talent, questions will come off like destinations for the disgruntled prospect and if the Rangers did enough to maximize the talent of a player like Kravtsov. In the end, both sides share the blame for the recent struggles. 

It’s fair to say Kravtsov has not gotten a fair attempt like other young players that the Rangers currently possess. The Russian forward has played in 28 games this year and totaled six points. A streak of 17 straight games played was snapped in January but the quick line changes and abrupt benchings aren’t exactly beneficial to any young player in any sport, let alone Kravtsov. 

That isn’t to say Kravtsov is without blame either. After going back to Russia after the team sent him down to Hartford last season, the Rangers were pleased in the offseason with his work ethic and improvements. The belief was that he could pair well with players like Artemi Panarin and put the team in a place where they wouldn’t need to break up the kids. 

Except the production never came. He’s struggled to make a name for himself and show he belongs on a top line. In a sport that is all about production, six points in 28 games played and being unable to stand out is alarming for a player with as much talent as Kravtsov. For a championship-contending team like the Rangers, they can’t really afford to wait on Kravtsov to hit his stride for as long as it’s taking. 

So while the Rangers haven’t exactly helped themselves in the development of young talent like Kravtsov, the player needs to show he belongs. 

Kravtsov and New York are in this bed together, and it appears unless Chris Drury finds a trade partner, the Rangers will have a disgruntled player on their roster in the most important part of the season. 

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