With the 9th overall selection, the New York Rangers selected winger Russian winger Vitali Kravtsov.
From the Rangers release:
- Kravtsov, 18, received the Alexei Cherepanov Award as the Kontinental Hockey League's Rookie of the Year in 2017-18.
- In 16 games with Traktor Chelyabinsk during the 2018 Gagarin Cup Playoffs, Kravtsov registered six goals and five assists for 11 points. Kravtsov's 11 points were the most a KHL junior player (younger than 20 years old) has registered in one playoff year in the league's history, eclipsing the previous record of nine held by Evgeny Kuznetsov and Valeri Nichushkin.
- In addition, Kravtsov's six goals in the 2018 Gagarin Cup Playoffs were tied for the second-most a KHL junior player has recorded in one playoff year in the league's history.
- The 6-3, 184-pounder was selected as the KHL's Rookie of the Month in both March and April of 2018, and he was also named the KHL's Best Rookie in each of the first three rounds of the 2018 Gagarin Cup Playoffs.
- Kravtsov led all KHL players younger than 19 years old in assists and points, and he was also tied for first among KHL players younger than 19 years old in goals during the playoffs this past year. In addition, Kravtsov tied for seventh among all players in the KHL in goals in the 2018 Gagarin Cup Playoffs, and he was also tied for second among all players in the league in game-winning goals (three) in the playoffs.
- He registered at least one point in seven of his first nine playoff games in 2018, posting four multi-point games over the span, and he registered the game-winning goal in overtime in his first playoff game of the year on Mar. 4 against Neftekhimik.
David Quinn said on NBCSN that Kravtsov, has "a lot of hockey sense and skill, people rave about his character. He is someone we have talked an awful lot about over the last month and we are ecstatic to get him."
Rangers director of European Scouting Nikolai Bobrov, said "very exciting player, very smart, very skilled, great size and a lot of speed and good character." (NYR)
Bob McKenzie said "the Rangers believe that this guy has elite offensive ability. When you see Kuznetsov and other skill players can do, they firmly believe that he has the ability to score and make plays as a player in the NHL."
McKenzie said that Kravtsov has at least one-year remaining on his KHL contract.
Craig Button said "he is a classic Russian scoring winger, get the puck on the move, he reminds me so much of James Neal, the ability to skate, fire the puck and get to the net."
He was ranked:
- The Hockey News: 24th
- TSN: 12th
- McKeens: 16th
- Future Considerations: 28th
- Hockey Prospect: 6th
- ISS: 36th
TSN's scouting report listed him as a 4/5 for skating, hockey sense, goal scoring and shot. They list his competitiveness at 3.5/5
The NHL sent through the following transcript of Kravtsov:
- Q. How excited are you to go so high in the draft?
- VITALI KRAVTSOV: Yeah, I'm so happy.
- Q. Were you surprised to go this high?
- VITALI KRAVTSOV: I'm ready for this. I've worked for this.
- Q. Can you talk about your style of play?
- VITALI KRAVTSOV: I'm a playmaker and passing, shooting, skills player.
- Q. Can you come over to North America next year? What's your contract in Russia?
- VITALI KRAVTSOV: My contract ends in next year and I am coming [to] North America.
- Q. What was your reaction when you found out the Rangers were taking you?
- VITALI KRAVTSOV: Happy, extremely happy.
- Q. So you weren't surprised by this?
- VITALI KRAVTSOV: I think not.
Adam Rotter: It's never a surprise when the Rangers take a Russian, but with the players on the board at the top, especially Bouchard, Wahlstrom and Dobson, this was interesting. I was hoping they would go for a winger but I expected them to go with Wahlstrom. By most accounts Kravtsov has tremendous skill and ability but the Russian factor, and the threat of staying in the KHL, had him lower on draft boards than his talent might indicate. The hope, in some way, is that Kravtsov makes up for the Rangers taking Dylan McIlrath over Vladimir Tarasenko in 2010 and that he is able to be the Russian winger the Rangers hoped they would have in Alexei Cherepanov. So at pick 9 the Rangers go with a big, highly skilled winger that will hopefully be on Filip Chytil or Lias Andersson's wing for many years to come.