Even as the situation remains status quo, the Vitali Kravtsov backstory continues to evolve as the 21-year-old winger sits out in a snit at home in Russia, suspended by the Rangers for his failure to report to the AHL Wolf Pack.
Our latest information, provided by an individual with knowledge of the situation, is that Kravtsov’s reasoning in refusing the assignment had nothing to do with his relationship with president-general manager Chris Drury, but rather was entirely based on his belief that he would never get a crack at a permanent spot on the top six with wingers Artemi Panarin, Chris Kreider, Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko ahead of him on the depth chart.
We are told that both Drury and head coach Gerard Gallant attempted to convince the ninth-overall selection of the 2018 draft to reconsider — Gallant, as reported by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, did reach out to the winger, though it is unclear whether that was before or after No. 74 took off to Russia — but he had made up his mind.
Further to last year’s postseason exit meeting that The Post first described as “contentious,” we have learned that the Rangers asked Kravtsov — who recorded two goals and two assists in 20 games upon joining the club following his KHL season — to remain in New York for a spell to work through a conditioning program designed by the training staff. The winger declined the invitation.
We are told that a handful of teams have expressed lukewarm interest in acquiring Kravtsov, but that there is currently nothing on the table. Given the lack of top-six-type depth in the organization, it is unclear whether the Rangers would welcome him back if he should have a change of heart. At this moment, though, Kravtsov seems dug in.
The Post has also learned the Blackhawks have quite naturally talked to the Rangers about Dylan Strome, Ryan’s younger brother who has been a scratch for the first four games of the season, but there has not necessarily been a link to Kravtsov.
The 24-year-old Dylan Strome, selected third-overall by the Coyotes in 2015, recorded 57 points in the 2018-19 season in which he was traded to the Blackhawks with Brendan Perlini for Nick Schmaltz. The center then posted 38 points in 58 games in 2019-20 and 17 points in 40 games last season. Strome, who will become a restricted free agent after the season, carries a $3 million cap hit.
There is no indication that talks between the Blueshirts and Blackhawks have progressed to any meaningful degree or that the Rangers do in fact have interest in the younger Strome.