2018 NHL draft profile: Vitali Kravtsov, a prospect with KHL history

2018 NHL draft profile: Vitali Kravtsov, a prospect with KHL history

In the weeks leading up to the 2018 NHL draft, we're providing prospect profiles and how those players would fit with the Flyers, who have two first-round picks — Nos. 14 and 19.

The NHL draft takes place June 22-23 at American Airlines Center in Dallas. The Flyers have nine picks with two in the first, fifth and seventh rounds and one in the second, fourth and sixth. They do not own a third-rounder as it went to the Detroit Red Wings for Petr Mrazek. The 14th pick conveyed from the Brayden Schenn trade. The final details were Schenn to the St. Louis Blues for Jori Lehtera, a 2017 first-round pick (Morgan Frost) and the 14th pick.

Our prospect profiles will touch mostly on prospects projected to go in the 10-20 range but some may require the Flyers having to trade up to select. We’ll identify those prospects.

Vitali Kravtsov

Position: Right winger
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 184
Shoots: Left
Team: Traktor Chelyabinsk (KHL)

Scouting report
Kravtsov made history at the age of 17 as the youngest player to ever score a goal in the Gagarin Cup, the KHL’s version of the Stanley Cup Final. He jumped up the charts on the international scouting scene, scoring 11 points in 16 games during the KHL playoffs.

Because of his late 1999 birthday, Kravtsov did not play in the most recent World Junior Championships for Team Russia.

Playing his off wing, Kravtsov has a very impressive set of hands. He can shoot in tight spaces and with a lightning quick release. Kravtsov comes with a strong hockey IQ and can work his way into the soft spots in the defense. Reads plays and situations well. 

Kravtsov doesn’t have high-end speed but still possesses good skating ability for a player of his size and appears to find that extra gear when he senses an offensive opportunity. While he has the potential to be an NHL scorer, he doesn’t have the game right now to be a complete two-way player required of today’s NHL player. He didn’t show much grit and tenaciousness on the defensive side of the puck and doesn’t seem to want to be the aggressor physically. 

If Kravtsov is selected in the first round, I believe it will take some time before he’s polished enough to make the NHL jump, but he does have the skill set to adapt his game to the North American rink. 

Fit with Flyers
Right now, I don’t see Kravtsov too high on the Flyers' radar. He’s not worthy of one of their two first-round picks unless the Flyers trade back between picks 22-30, or if Kravtsov somehow falls into the second round, it may be worth taking a serious look.

It would be interesting to see if Kravtsov is purely a right winger or if he’s versatile enough to move over and play the left side as well. He has the makeup to be a power-play sniper. The Flyers could boost their farm system with some high-end talented wingers and certainly, Kravtsov fits that description.

Kravtsov could have been a top-15 selection had he made the jump to the CHL like fellow Russian Andrei Svechnikov, who played for the Barrie Colts this past season.

I see a number of comparisons with Capitals star center Evgeny Kuznetsov, considering they both played for the same KHL team and Kuznetsov was also drafted late in the first round. However, Kuznetsov and Kravtsov play a different style and so much of that is contingent on how they develop over the next three to four years from the day they’re drafted.

More on the 2018 NHL draft

• Flyers could draft another bona-fide center

• Flyers should eye this shoot-first LW

History of the 14th overall pick

History of the 19th overall pick

If Alain Vigneault can't work his magic with Flyers' roster, pressure mounts for Chuck Fletcher

If Alain Vigneault can't work his magic with Flyers' roster, pressure mounts for Chuck Fletcher

Chuck Fletcher was brought in because things weren't going well enough and quickly enough for the Flyers.

The predicament he inherited required eventual change.

After all, sitting alongside team president Paul Holmgren back in November, Comcast Spectacor chairman and CEO Dave Scott said the Flyers were eyeing a general manager with a "bias for action," among other qualities.

With time and evaluation, Fletcher has begun providing the desired action.

A new head coach is on board, bringing extensive experience and outside perspective, while two new assistants with strong pedigrees have been hired.

But perhaps the most influential part in shifting the Flyers' course has remained mostly intact: the roster. That could drastically change this upcoming offseason with free agency and potential trades. However, Fletcher, facing his first offseason as the Flyers' GM, doesn't see an exodus needed with the current roster — or at least not yet.

"The Flyers are a great opportunity. You guys are in this market, for me coming in from the outside, I know when Paul Holmgren approached me about being the general manager of the Flyers, I'm like, 'Wow.' This is a premium job in the National Hockey League and we're set up where we should have an opportunity to get better quickly," Fletcher said April 18. "I know we need more good players, but we have a lot of good players. It's not like you have to gut this thing — we have cap space, we have picks. We have really good staff, really good staff. On the scouting and management side, I've added one person, I haven't subtracted anything. There's a good group here and we have the ability to get better quickly if we all do our job."

Therein lies a poignant and undeniable pressure on Fletcher in Year 1 with the Flyers under Alain Vigneault's watch.

Aside from Wayne Simmonds, who became an inevitable piece to move given the circumstances, the Flyers' core has survived. So, too, has the overall makeup of the roster.

Fletcher, Vigneault and the Flyers believe this team can win with a refined system and different guidance. They don't exactly see a team that has missed the playoffs every other season since 2012-13, a stretch consisting of three first-round exits.

Will Fletcher add this summer? Of course — the ability to do so is one of the reasons why Vigneault found the Flyers as an attractive destination. When Fletcher was hiring Vigneault, the two established a list of areas in which the Flyers can improve.

"We're looking at some options and if we can put the right things in place," Vigneault said at his introduction, "it's going to be a lot of fun."

Significant subtraction was not featured on the list.

"There's some solid youth with a lot of upside here that is coming into its own," Vigneault said. "There's great goaltending, being one of those youth pieces. There's a solid core group that, in my mind, needs the right direction. And you've got the combination, also, of some solid veteran players that have been in the league a few years, that can still contribute at a high level in this league. … After discussing it with a lot of people that I respect their opinion in the NHL, I feel that the Flyers are a very good team that with the proper direction, proper mindset, proper culture and people working together, will be a very good team in the near future."

That's why Year 1 will be so telling.

Vigneault is a coach with a tremendous track record of winning during his first season on the job. He did so at three separate stops (see story). Michel Therrien has 38 postseason victories under his belt as a head coach and took a team to the Stanley Cup Final. Mike Yeo owns three playoff series victories as a head coach and has a ring as an assistant.

If this group can't produce the results with the Flyers' roster, Fletcher will have to take a longer, much more serious look at the players in place and make his hardest decisions yet.

At that point, it may be the only action left.

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More on the Flyers

2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule, live stream: More drama ahead for Sharks-Blues Western Conference Final?

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2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule, live stream: More drama ahead for Sharks-Blues Western Conference Final?

There has been a ton of drama only three games into the Western Conference Final between the Sharks and Blues.

Game 3 was won by the Sharks, 5-4, in overtime, but not without controversy. San Jose may have gotten away with a hand pass on the game-winning goal.

The series will shift one way or the other Friday night with Game 4.

Below is the schedule for Day 37 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. You can watch the entire playoffs on the networks of NBC. 

San Jose Sharks at St. Louis Blues (SJS 2-1)
Game 4, Western Conference Final
8 p.m. ET | TV: NBCSN | Live stream here