Vitali Kravtsov had a fantastic KHL playoffs that has seen his stock rise considerably heading into this draft.
Playing so well to close out the year that he stole the Best Rookie of the Year Award from Eeli Tolvanen, although he still probably shouldn’t have won it.
The young Russian winger possesses an intriguing skill set that blends size, speed, and skill that allows him to be effective in multiple ways. He will likely be a longer-term project but it’s fair to think that patience will be worth the wait.
- Age/Birthdate: 17.73/ December 23, 1999
- Birthplace: Russia
- Frame:6-foot-2/ 183 lbs
- Position: RW
- Draft Year Team: Traktor Chelyabinsk(Russia)
- KHL Rookie of the Week (Gagarin Cup 1st round)
- MHL All-Star Game
- KHL Aleksei Cherepanov (Best Rookie) Award
- KHL Rookie of the Month (April)
- KHL Rookie of the Month (March)
- KHL Rookie of the Week (Gagarin Cup Quarterfinals)
- KHL Rookie of the Week (Gagarin Cup Semifinals)
- KHL Rookie of the Week (Gagarin Cup 1st round)
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Given his limited role with the KHL club, his underlying numbers are all over the place with limited production.
Recency bias has been talked about a few times throughout this series and Kravtsov is another case of that.
He had a very good season in the KHL and MHL and was certainly in the conversation of being a first-round pick, and rightfully so. After his noteworthy playoff run, his stock has risen considerably with one noteworthy pundit having him outside of his top 100 in their last rankings (only a few months ago) to then being placed firmly in the first round.
Given that he broke the KHL single-season record for the most points by a U20 player, that recency bias can be hard to ignore and that performance should be factored in but the small sample size can’t outweigh the whole season.
Obviously, there can be lack of viewings and his improvement over the course of the season that play into it. But that balance must be struck with all evaluations and Kravtsov is such a talented player that he shouldn’t have been out of this range to begin with.
Kravtsov is a creative and energetic player on the ice. He can create chances for himself with quick feet and puck movements that leave defenders behind. He doesn’t always go for the simple play and tries to make that extra move or two to create a better lane. Sometimes it doesn’t work but when it does, it looks great.
He is so calm and patient with the puck and those skills should help him translate well to the NHL in a few years.
The left-handed wingers skating is above average, although a little sloppy and lanky in appearance. He will best served to bear down lower in his stride to get more power and strength over the puck but he does have good speed and puck control when in stride.
The Traktor forward did see some time on the penalty kill, it wasn’t perfect as there were some issues with reads but it’s encouraging to see that he is placed in those situations. Those slow reactions do appear at times in 5v5 play but likely something that will improve over time.
His pGPS presents a lower success rate but does have a high production with 48.6 points per 82 games.
Kravtsov is a raw talent player with high offensive upside that rightfully have people excited about his potential. Obviously, his playoffs are a small sample size that may have too much emphasis placed on it but it’s good to see that it helped his stock rise to somewhere closer to where he belongs in this draft class. He will spend a couple more years in the KHL but when he does make the leap over, he should be able to slide into an offensive role in the NHL.
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A big, skilled winger that can play up and down the lineup and provide scoring in a number of roles. He brings grit and physical size, but could be more assertive in throwing his weight around more. Displays excellent speed on the rush and in zone entry, but could backcheck quicker. Plays well in his own end and takes away lanes. Very good hands and awareness. Kravtsov has the potential to develop into a staple top six forward that can produce at the next level.
From Future Considerations:
A dynamic forward, he can really skate. Fast on his feet with great acceleration and no hesitation to use it. He’s deceptive when stickhandling with the puck, having the ability to make highlight-reel plays look routine and easy. He is adept at moving around and through defenders, either one-on-one or when navigating through traffic. Not surprisingly, he has a lot of confidence in possession. He should. Very strong off the rush. He has good overall hockey sense. He has the ability to play both wings, but he appears more comfortable on his natural side. He possesses a good wrister, which he can uncork after using his wheels to get close to the net. Release is the best part of his shot. It doesn’t take much time at all for him to get the puck off his stick. He’s a good, but not necessarily great, playmaker. He could stand to bulk up his already-solid frame because strength will be a big key to his development moving forward. As it is, he’s not physical. In fact, he tries to avoid contact and he is able to do so by using his speed to stay away from incoming defenders. In the words of one bird-dog, he’s “darty” on the ice. Without the puck, though, he can get a little lost, especially in his own end. But he does try to be reliable defensively. At a young age, he’s been productive in the KHL – 11 points in 16 playoff appearances.
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CanucksArmy’s 2018 NHL Draft Rankings