The New York Rangers have given forward Vitali Kravtsov permission to seek a trade if he wishes, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reports, potentially ending the 2018 first-round pick's tenure with the organization after just 20 NHL games.
Friedman's report came shortly after Kravtsov officially failed to make the Rangers' opening night roster.
Kravtsov's possible departure is yet another example of the Rangers' mishandling of their first-round draft picks. The team's 2017 first-rounder, Lias Andersson, had his own public exodus back from the organization back in 2020 when the Rangers, after shuttling him between the NHL and AHL for three years, attempted to send Andersson back down to the AHL once again. Andersson refused, leaving North America to play for HV71 of the SHL for the remainder of the season and demanding a trade. That request was ultimately granted, as Andersson was dealt to the Los Angeles Kings at the 2020 NHL Draft.
Kravtsov, like Andersson, is a former top-10 pick, going 9th overall one year after the latter went 7th.
It's unclear as to why the Rangers would allow Kravtsov to seek opportunities elsewhere just three years after spending such a high selection on him. Despite not making the team out of camp, the 21-year-old is still a tantalizing prospect, boasting a rare combination of size and skill that is coveted in the modern NHL.
A mere 20-game cameo amidst a pandemic-shortened season shouldn't be enough to sour an organization entirely on someone of Kravtsov's stature. And yet, it's seemingly on-brand for the Rangers in recent years.
Now that he's officially on the market, it's not hard to imagine that rival teams will be lining up to get their hands on a player with Kravtsov's potential. It's not like his trade value is at its peak, either. The Russian winger will likely be had for a bargain.
And thus, yet another odd chapter of the New York Rangers' current era begins. Who knows how this one will end?