With the New York Rangers’ season now over, the team has gotten to work quickly on its business for the offseason. This morning, their first move was revealed. Dan Milstein’s Gold Star Hockey announced today that winger Vitali Kravtsov signed a one-year, one-way contract extension with the New York Rangers. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that the one-year deal carries an $875k cap hit, which is a decrease from the $925k cap hit he carried on his entry-level deal as a top-ten pick. CapFriendly notes that Kravtsov’s qualifying offer would have been $874,125, meaning this contract is an ever-so-slight raise on that figure.
Kravtsov returns to North America after a reasonably successful, albeit limited stint in the KHL. Between the regular season and the playoffs, Kravtsov got into 34 games for Traktor Chelyabinsk, netting 13 goals and 23 points. Kravtsov originally left for the KHL at the start of this season after failing to make the Rangers’ team out of training camp, and his reportedly strained relationship with Rangers GM Chris Drury was thought to be a factor in creating his steadfast resistance towards continuing his development with the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack. While that resistance to taking the developmental path the organization likely preferred for him has made him a bit of a controversial prospect, Kravtsov’s potential is undeniable. The six-foot-two, 187-pound winger boasts a rare combination of size and skill and is coming off of a productive season in the KHL. Kravtsov was originally drafted ninth overall at the 2018 draft, and he is likely hoping that it’s on this one-year contract that he establishes himself as an NHL regular similar to how fellow 2018 first-rounder K’Andre Miller has established himself over the past two seasons in New York.
Given the relatively uncertain state of the Rangers’ right wingers going into next season, Kravtsov could have a strong opportunity to earn an NHL job and hold onto it. The Rangers are not overflowing with cap space and both of the players who play right wing on the team’s top two lines (Frank Vatrano and Andrew Copp) are pending unrestricted free agents. Since it’s unlikely that the Rangers will be able to hold onto all of their pending free agents, Kravtsov’s $875k cap hit could end up working to his advantage in the fall as he fights for a role on the team.
It remains to be seen what Kravtsov ultimately becomes at the NHL level, but today’s extension confirms that he is going to enter next season with the firm intention of finally cementing himself as an NHL regular.