The Rangers do not seem to have given up on Vitali Kravtsov just yet.
After signing the former first-round pick to a one-year deal reportedly worth $875,000 earlier this week, GM Chris Drury sounded positive about Kravtsov’s eventual future in New York in his end-of-season news conference on Wednesday.
“We’re excited to have him back,” Drury said. “I don’t think we’ve ever wavered from our stance that he’s an all-world talent. Does a lot of things on the ice that a lot of people can’t.
“Good size, his hockey sense is through the roof, as is his skill. So we’re excited to have him back and be a part of the group.”
Kravtsov returned to Russia on a loan with Traktor Chelyabinsk last fall after a falling out with the Rangers, scoring 13 points in 19 regular-season games for the KHL outfit. He had been expected to make the Rangers’ roster out of training camp but failed to do so, subsequently refused an assignment to AHL Hartford and was given permission to facilitate a trade.
Such a deal, though, never materialized, and the Rangers are evidently giving Kravtsov another shot.
In a 20-game stint with the club two seasons ago, Kravtsov had two goals and two assists.
“Again, like anyone else, your play dictates where you end up,” Drury said. “We’re certainly glad to have him back in the mix and signed for next year.”
Like Kaapo Kakko himself earlier in the week, Drury did not sound too concerned that the youngster’s scratch in Game 6 against the Lightning would affect his future with the club.
Though the restricted free agent-to-be was clearly caught off-guard by his benching, he said Monday that he wouldn’t change how he views the decision in front of him this summer. Drury, asked about the situation, made allusions to Kakko being with the team next year.
“He and I had a real good discussion before we left [Tuesday],” Drury said. “There’s obviously a lot of belief with me and the staff as far as [what] his future holds. And I know as you cited for a good offseason and to come back next year and be ready.
“As I’ve said before, it’s [coach Gerard Gallant’s] lineup card. I support and trust the decisions he makes. He made a lot of great ones this year. … He was just trying to win a game, win a road game, put the best lineup out there. That’s the decision he made.”