The New York Rangers are expected to sign top draft pick Vitali Kravtsov to an entry-level contract in the coming days.
However, he produced 21 points this past season, which is an impressive total for a player so young.
Kravtsov initially wanted to come over right away, but it was decided that he would benefit more from playing his final season with Traktor, his KHL squad. As disappointing as it was for Rangers fans to see none of their three first-round picks play with the team, it made sense from a developmental standpoint.
However, Traktor was bounced from the playoffs in the first round and Kravtsov is now free to sign with New York.
Alvis Kalnins of Hockey Buzz reports on Twitter that the team plans to do exactly that in the coming days.
Hearing that Kravtsov is expected to sign with #NYR in next few days. He’s willing to take some time to reflect on the season before heading overseas.
— Aivis Kalniņš (@A_Kalnins) March 4, 2019
Kravtsov is ineligible to have his entry-level contract slide due to his age. He is expected to be eligible for the expansion draft if he plays in the NHL this season, but there is some confusion about that situation that the team will need to figure out before deciding what to do.
He would no doubt like to join recent first-round picks Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil in New York, though it’s possible the team sends him to Hartford or to the World Championships instead. He would have fellow Russian Pavel Buchnevich on the team to help him make the transition to North America should the team go down that route.
Kravtsov would become the second recent draft pick signed to an ELC, as the team also signed third-round pick Joey Keane, who they drafted 88th overall in the same draft as Kravtsov. The future is arriving on Broadway, and it’s becoming exciting to be a Rangers fan again.