A telling Quinn quote could bode well for Kravtsov

Vitali Kravtsov should be given an opportunity to start with the Rangers on the third line. AP Photo via Getty Images

Following last night’s 4-2 loss to the Islanders in Bridgeport, coach David Quinn discussed both the final preseason game and the tough decisions he will make regarding the roster.

In less than 24 hours, the Rangers will make the final eight cuts to get down to what their 23-man roster should look like. While some are obvious such as Vinni Lettieri, Micheal Haley, Joe Morrow, along with both Igor Shesterkin and Yegor Rykov Hartford bound, the last few choices are always the hardest.

Quinn talked about taking the best 23 players. If that’s true, then there should be a place for Vitali Kravtsov. Only 19, the 2018 first round pick the club took with the number nine pick, has done enough to warrant keeping him at the start of the season.

A good skater with smart offensive instincts and size, the Russian forward showed enough in training camp to be given a spot in the starting lineup this Thursday against Winnipeg at MSG. One thing Quinn also noted prior to yesterday was that Kravtsov looks like he cares about making the right decisions with the puck in the defensive zone and neutral zone. A positive outlook that felt like a ringing endorsement.

While I believe he should be a top six forward, Kravtsov won’t be right away. With Quinn shifting versatile forward Ryan Strome to center the second line, that means at best Kravtsov can be in the top nine. As much as a third line of Lias Andersson, Vladislav Namestnikov and Jesper Fast makes sense, the Blueshirts would be better suited with Fast playing the right side on a checking line with Brendan Lemieux and Brett Howden, who should get the nod at fourth line center over veteran Greg McKegg.

You can stick Kravtsov with Andersson and Namestnikov, giving the third line more skill. Not a bad thing for two tenacious hard workers. There’s no reason not to try it out. If he’s ready, maybe Kravtsov will stick. If he stays, he should also see power play time on the second unit.

It really all depends on what the organization thinks is best. They could just decide to send down Kravtsov with Filip Chytil, who looks like he needs more time to develop at Hartford. Especially after a disappointing camp in which he struggled to distinguish himself. Chytil can play his natural position of center and learn while receiving top line and power play duties.

Three players the Rangers must decide on are Boo Nieves, Ryan Lindgren and vet Brendan Smith. Both Lindgren and Smith played well. But who would be better suited as a seventh defenseman? Assuming Libor Hajek is on the third pair with Adam Fox, it probably makes sense to send Lindgren to Hartford. That way he gets game action and stays sharp. He did enough to make the team, but being a scratch won’t help his development.

As for Nieves, he is a solid extra forward, who can come in and play fourth line while killing penalties. However, McKegg is more proven and had a better showing. He set up a couple of goals including Tony DeAngelo’s yesterday when the Islanders were “head hunting.” A Quinn reference to both Cal Clutterbuck and Matt Martin going after Brendan Lemieux while DeAngelo scored, which was appropriate.

If Quinn is serious about taking the best 23 players, then Kravtsov should be on the roster. Let’s see what he can do.

Here’s what my roster would look like:











F McKegg

F Nieves

D Smith

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of Hudson administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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1 Response to A telling Quinn quote could bode well for Kravtsov

  1. isaiah dearborne says:

    I completely agree. Chytil needs to be in Hartford and that paves the way for Kravs to stick. I also wouldn’t be surprised if we see them both get sent down with Fast on that third line and any of your 3 extras on the fourth. I liked McKegg’s play enough to justify seeing him centering the fourth line but imagine Howden will get the first crack at it.


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