The New York Rangers prospects report features young Vitali Kravtsov, the unstoppable exciting phenom who’s tearing it up.
It’s been a long week for New York Rangers fans. Not just because the team is in the middle of a bye week, but due to the fact the team is 4-5-1 in their last 10 games. Many were hoping the Rangers could continue to turn some heads after some hot play that included an eight-game home winning streak.
Now that the team has come back down to Earth, fans are back into rebuild mode.
The season is certainly far from over, after all, it’s only December and the Rangers are just on the cuff of a playoff spot. But with the way the team has been playing lately, fans must remember that this franchise is looking to their future rather than right now, no matter how hard David Quinn is pushing them to compete this year. That being said, let’s check in on the Rangers first round picks of the 2018 Draft.
I was not at the draft viewing party at the Theater at Madison Square Garden, but a good friend of mine was. He said when the Rangers selected Vitali Kravstov ninth overall, the room let a collective, “huh?”
Clearly, the Rangers are taking a risk with this pick. But those confused fans can breathe a little easier with this report.
Following Vitali Kravtsov’s game today, here is how he compares to several former KHL players who are currently in the NHL in two breakdowns: their first 32 KHL games in the season following their draft year and their first 92 career KHL games (regular season + playoffs) #NYR pic.twitter.com/lETtNg6zn6
— NYR Stats & Info (@NYRStatsInfo) December 4, 2018
Seeing the 18-year-old with comparable numbers to some of the NHL’s notable former KHLers should be very encouraging to Ranger fans.
Fans who may not know any better might look at his stats side by side with an NCAA player and think, “we wasted this pick.” Keep in mind, Oliver Wahlstrom, who the Rangers passed on, is playing in a league with college kids around his age. Kravstov is playing in the second biggest hockey league in the world with grown men. This is not a shot at the NCAA, but something to keep in mind when analyzing this pick.
Also, the KHL is notorious for not giving teenagers minutes. But now that Kravstov is developing more and growing, he is starting to get those minutes he deserves. Traktor is plagued by injuries and Kravstov is getting more opportunities to display his skills, director of European Scouting Nickolai Bobrov said in a prospect report.
Kravstov’s hard work on the ice is certainly paying off. The 19-year-old is going to the KHL All-Star game and will be on Russia’s World Junior roster. But according to Sport-Express’ Hockey Writer, Igor Eronko, Ranger fans can expect to see the 19-year-old when Traktor’s season ends.
The New York Rangers are not hot right now, but I will tell you who is: K’Andre Miller.
The 22nd overall pick tallied five points (1 G, 4 A) in two games this week, four in one game alone. In Wisconsin’s game against Penn State on Dec. 1, Miller posted three assists and the game-winning goal. Miller’s currently riding a three-game point streak and will get a chance to continue that streak with two-games against Michigan State this weekend.
But this recent stretch is not all that Miller accomplished so far this season. With 15 points (three goals, 12 assists), Miller leads the Badgers in assists and points. Miller also has a plus-nine rating in 16 games this year, tying him for the team lead.
But the Badgers are not the only place where Miller is up on the leaderboard. The 18-year-old from St. Paul is tied for second in the NCAA for points and assists by a freshman.
Standing at 6-foot-4 and approximately 205 pounds, it’s obvious the Rangers are looking to add some size to their blue-line. The Rangers drafted as a defenseman but he has also been known to play some forward as well. One can make comparisons to players like Brent Burns or Dustin Byfuglien, big bodies who bring value to both ends of the ice.
Like Kravstov, Miller is going to play at World Juniors for his respected country (USA). But unlike Kravstov, Miller is still early into his development, after all, he is just a freshman. But if his current play is indicative on his future success, the Rangers may have themselves a strong presence at the blue-line.
No relation to the goalie, obviously. But that does not mean Nils Lundkvist cannot win over fans like Henrik Lundqvist.
This report is not as in-depth as the other two, due to the fact there is not a lot of news surrounding the 18-year-old defenseman. He is flying under the radar. But even though he is not making as much noise as Kravstov and Miller, Lundkvist is certainly moving along in his development.
Lundkvist has put up six points (1 G, 5 A) in 22 games with Lulea of the SHL. Those six points lead the SHL in U20 defensemen. With Lulea’s U20 team of the SuperElit League, Lundkvist posted two assists in four games. Lundkvist only has a minus-three rating in the SHL but has a plus-eight rating in the SuperElit league.
Blueshirts fans should expect a mobile defenseman who will not be afraid to join the offensive rush at times. Last year in the SuperElit League, Lundkvist put up 14 points (3 G, 11 A) in 26 games. Lundkvist was the Rangers third pick of the draft and second defenseman. With the defensive struggles the team had, General Manager Jeff Gorton made defensive depth a priority.
Just like Kravstov and Miller, Lundkvist will play at World Juniors for his respected nation (Sweden).
Being in a rebuild is tough for fans. There is no telling how long it will last or if it will go as planned. You can ask any New York Jets fan about that. But you also do not want to get too excited when the team puts up a hot streak as we just saw. But if all the right buttons are pressed, the reward for rebuilding could make all the suffering worth it.
With the way these prospects are doing, New York Rangers fans can think of the team’s future with some hope.