When the Rangers officially start training camp next Thursday, one notable player is expected to be missing and one almost-forgotten player will return to the scene.
President and general manager Chris Drury is still uncertain about the situation regarding 22-year-old defenseman Nils Lundkvist, who The Post’s Larry Brooks reported does not intend to come to training camp and is hoping to find a top-four role with another NHL club via trade.
“I don’t really have any update on it,” Drury said Thursday at MSG Training Center in Tarrytown. “Obviously, we think he’s a real good player. We drafted him. We’ve worked with him the last number of years. … We certainly hope he’s here next week. … I don’t have a definitive answer as to what his plans are right now.”
Lundkvist’s 25-game cameo with the Rangers last season did not live up to the hype surrounding the 2021 Salming Trophy winner — awarded annually to the best Swedish-born defenseman. It was the right-handed defenseman’s first season in North America and the adjustment period was longer than expected. After posting just one goal and three assists, Lundkvist was quickly leapfrogged by Braden Schneider.
The expectation is that Lundkvist, who the Rangers drafted 28th overall in 2018, will be traded, but Drury wouldn’t confirm whether he has formally requested out.
On the other hand, Vitali Kravtsov seemingly has a clean slate coming into training camp after the Russian winger refused an AHL assignment last season and fled home. What once was viewed as an irreparable relationship is now looking like a mutually beneficial situation for both sides. The Rangers need Kravtsov, his $875,000 cap hit and offensive upside, while Kravtsov needs to prove he is an NHL-caliber winger on a playoff-contending team like the Rangers.
“I think he’s on a great track,” Drury said of Kravtsov, who scored seven goals and dished three assists in 15 playoff games for the Kontinental Hockey League’s Chelyabinsk Traktor. “He chose voluntarily to come here very early in the summer. … So that was obviously a great sign that he chose to do that. Come here, he’s had a great summer training, skating. He looks good. We’re excited to see what he has.“Just from what we’ve seen so far, peeking out my window at practices, he looks really good and we’re excited he’s here.”
Kravtsov, drafted by the Rangers with the No. 9-overall pick in 2018, will certainly be competing against fellow youngsters Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko for the spots on the wings in the top nine. Considering Lafreniere has spent time on the top unit and Kakko has gotten familiar with the right wing of the second line, Kravtsov could fall to the third line depending on how camp unfolds.
“No, not at all,” Drury said when asked if Kravtsov has two strikes against him. “Once we loaned him and got him to the KHL last year, there was never any issue. Certainly excited with how he went over there and played. … We’re happy with the way he played, the way he handled himself over there.
“He’s done everything right by coming here early. And I’m excited to see what he has when things start.”
Soruce : https://nypost.com/2022/09/15/two-different-paths-for-rangers-nils-lundkvist-vitali-kravtsov/