The Apprenticeship of Vitali Kravtsov
March 21, 2018
By Grant McCagg
What Kravtsov is achieving in the KHL playoffs is pretty remarkable. Two more assists today and looking great. Six goals and five assists in nine games. He leads all KHL goal scorers and is in top five in points….no draft eligible 18-year-old has ever achieved that.
On top of that, he is doing it with third-line ice time. The only player in the top 30 to be getting less than 14 MPG..he’s averaging 12:53. Nichushkin only other 18-year-old to ever score six goals in playoffs, and he did it in 25 games. It helped him get drafted in the top ten of the 2013 NHL draft.
When you add in that Kravtsov has pro size as a 6-2 winger and already plays a pretty solid two-way game and by no means cheats on the offensive side, Kravtsov is making a strong case for the top 20. It could be argued that he should be a top 15 candidate given his play, but what will hurt him is a lack of viewings from North American and non-Russian scouts based in Europe. As a late birthday he has not been playing for Russian in any U-18 events, and he was a late cut of the WJC team so he wasn’t seen there either.
Some scouts got a look at him in a World Junior exhibition game and were impressed with his all-around game, but that was one viewing, so it will be interesting to see where he ends up going on draft day. Will scouts be scared off by the lack of views and that he is still playing in Russia? If he is still available after the top 20, some NHL team may be getting a draft-day steal. The key word though…is maybe. Truly one of the draft’s wildcards.