This is now two top ten picks in the last five years that want out of the Rangers organization. With Vitaly Kravtsov now the latest, how did we get here? Is it poor scouting, poor player development, the players being poor fits, or a organizational culture issue?
Everyone is well aware by now that Vitali Kravtsov, Rangers 2018 first round pick at ninth overall, has demanded a trade from the Rangers after to make the opening night roster. He’s now back in Russia while awaiting his jettison from the club. While some might argue, myself included, that Kravtsov should have taken his quick stint in Hartford to show the player he is and can be, the Rangers have a lot of blood on their hands for how they’ve handled him.
The man who appears to be drenched in blood is none other than Chris Drury the Rangers new GM. Drury is more than familiar with Kravtsov since he was the Hartford Wolfpack’s GM when the Rangers sent Kravtsov down two years ago and he decided to head back to Russia originally. It was a really bad move by Kravtsov, which left a bad taste in many folks mouths and it appears most notably Drury.
According to Arthur Staple’s latest piece for The Athletic, Drury said that Kravtsov “quit on the team” when Kravtsov went to pick up his gear before heading back to Russia. Kravtsov would later come back and rejoin the WolfPack and state that he handled things poorly but the damage was already done.
Could there have been maturity issues that Kravtsov always had? Sure. But who’s at fault for not identifying those issues before selecting him 9th overall? The entire Rangers scouting department. When you take into account the hours and money that is poured into scouting these players and digging into their backgrounds, you would think you’d find out if a player has issues handling certain situations. And once the first incident happened you would have to assume it could be a possibility again to occur like it did this year.
Instead of using the “one size fits all” approach, the Rangers as a club should have realized that not all players respond to the same universal treatment. Players now more than ever have their own identities and they don’t look at everything as just part of a group which is a vast departure from older players.
Another thing to keep in mind is that this Kravtsov situation isn’t an isolated incident. Lets not forget how the club handled Lias Andersson as well. Now you’re looking at trading away two top ten picks in five years for pennies on the dollar because of organizational failure, not just player failure. While sure, Kravtsov needs to look in the mirror, it does say something when two players demand out of an organization at such a young age.
With how he’s handled Kravtsov now, and as GM in Hartford, Drury will need to try and get the same if not more value for Kravtsov than Gorton managed to get for Andersson (a 2nd round pick from LA). I honestly don’t see how that will be possible since all this news will leave the Rangers with absolutely zero leverage and trading from the ultimate position of weakness.
With some already questionable decisions made by Drury, his scouting staff better hit a homerun in next years draft and Drury better pray the team he’s put together this season can make a playoff run or else he may not be long for this GM world. For all the good will Jeff Gorton amassed in his time as GM, Chris Drury is starting at the bottom and working his way deeper with fans.