The New York Rangers have officially loaned Vitali Kravtsov to Traktor Chelyabinsk of the KHL, allowing him to spend the rest of their season playing in Russia. Kravtsov had requested a trade earlier this season, failed to report to the AHL Hartford Wolf Pack and subsequently been suspended by the team. In the release, Rangers GM Chris Drury explained the situation:
After discussions with Vitali and his representation, we decided a loan to Traktor was in the best interests of both him and the organization. We think very highly of Vitali and the Rangers development staff will continue to work with him to reach our mutual goal of him some day being a New York Ranger.
Kravtsov released his own statement, which certainly strikes a different tone than many of the reports earlier this year:
I want to thank the Rangers for working with me, and appreciate the open and honest conversations we have had during this process. While this has been a challenging time for me personally, I believe having the opportunity to return to Traktor and work on my game is the best thing for me right now. My main focus is getting better every day to continue towards my goal of playing hockey for the New York Rangers.
The 2018 ninth-overall pick has never seemed thrilled about the idea of playing in the AHL and to this point has just 39 games for the Wolf Pack, all of them coming in 2019-20. He’s actually spent more time with Traktor than the Rangers organization, even since signing his entry-level deal in 2019. That contract is set to expire at the end of this season, which would potentially allow him to sign a new deal in the KHL, though the Rangers would maintain his exclusive NHL rights through his 27th birthday.
The Rangers were reported to have several trade talks earlier this season but were asking a high price for the young forward. This release suggests that both are willing to try to overcome their differences down the road, but it also could be as simple as the Rangers not wanting to have an asset’s development thrown off track before they can move him for equal value.