While they used a less direct phrase, this move has presumably been made for the same reasons players such as Vladislav Gavrikov, Jakob Chychrun, and Dmitry Orlov, among others, have been healthy scratched: the team has a trade in mind they want to make, and doesn’t want to risk injuries to players they’re looking at trading throwing a wrench in their plans.
While they obviously have not yet been traded and it’s definitely possible that this is simply a precautionary measure, this is also the most official indication given out to this point that Kravtsov’s time as a Ranger is coming to an end.
The big 23-year-old winger was the ninth-overall selection at the 2018 draft, and was viewed as one of the centerpiece prospects from the Rangers’ rebuilding phase. The team envisioned him being the type of power forward that is becoming all too rare in the NHL, but since being drafted Kravtsov has largely disappointed.
There were significant challenges in his development process, with Kravtsov’s 2019-20 season spent mostly in the AHL as the standout point of tension. It was widely reported that Kravtsov was not comfortable developing his game in an AHL setting, and those reports were in large part confirmed when he departed Hartford mid-season to head back to the KHL. Kravtsov eventually made a trade request, but ended up remaining in the Rangers’ organization and developing in the KHL.
This season, Kravtsov finally made the Rangers out of camp and had a real shot to seize a valuable role given New York’s paper-thin depth at the right winger position to start the year. He hasn’t done much with that opportunity, though, and has scored in total six points in 28 games. His inability to seize the moment led to the Rangers’ acquisition of Vladimir Tarasenko from the St. Louis Blues, and the team remains interested in Patrick Kane to further add from the outside to their right-wingers.
Kravtsov still has intriguing physical tools and has at times looked very impressive in the KHL. But his performance in North America has left much to be desired, and it’s likely that a change of scenery would be the best path for both parties moving forward.
As for Leschychyn, he was a relatively recent waiver claim by New York who has played 13 mostly anonymous games for the Rangers. He’s averaged 8:21 time on ice per game for coach Gerard Gallant, and is likely being scratched due to cap reasons, as the Rangers would likely ship his salary out in any trade for a pricey incoming player.