New York Rangers should give Kapo Kako and Vitaly Kravtsov big time

New York Rangers

Vitaly Kravtsov and Kapo Kako need to get to the big minute with the New York Rangers (Kravtsov Photo: Mandatory Credit: Bruce Bennett / Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports / Kako Photo: Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports)

New York Rangers Not much option next season. After letting Andrew Copp and Frank Vatrano run through free agency, they need to give both Kapo Kako and Vitaly Kravtsov big minutes in the right wing.

It doesn’t mean that each of them will get top six minutes or power play time, but Rangers need to know what they really have in these talented wingers.

While it is true that head coach Gerard Gallant is paid to win games next season, this is an oversimplification. The big picture in the world of salary caps is a team’s plan ahead to figure out how to win games even in the future.

A crucial season for the New York Rangers

Like many other teams in the NHL, the Rangers roster will have a slightly different look in 2022-23.

Now that trade deadline acquisition Frank Vatrano is gone, the top line will likely have one of last season’s left wingers switching to the right. Alexis Lafrenier scored 19 goals mainly in the LW minute of the third line. The first overall pick in the 2020 draft is ready for a chance to go up. He will either move to the right to play with Mika Zibnejad, or we can see veteran Chris Kreider slide.

The second row lost both Ryan Strom and Andrew Copp to free agency this summer. Chris Drury reportedly offered either contract at the end of the year and went hard after Carolina Hurricanes center Vincent Trochek. By offering the 29-year-old Kendra a 7-year deal at $5.625 million a season, he sent a clear signal about how he’s beefing up for the next season onwards.

Trochek’s style of play is the exact opposite of Strom’s. The latter was a more east-west type of player and was better suited to Artemi Panarin’s playing style. Which is why we can actually see Lafrenier remaining at LW with Trochek and Bradman along with Micah Zibnejad and Kreider to build one of the most powerful lines in the NHL in 2022-23.

So who should put Rangers on the right wing with Lafrenier and Trochek to complete the second line?

It’s time for Kapo Kako to shine

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December 12, 2021; New York, New York, USA; The Nashville Predators left wing Philip Forsberg (9) skates between New York Rangers center Mika Zibnejad (93) and New York Rangers right wing Kapo Kako (24) during the second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wilde—USA TODAY SPORTS

The 2021-22 season was really tough for Capo Kako, just trying to stay on the ice. He lost 39 games because of three separate injuries But scored 18 points in 43 matches.

The 21-year-old, who was selected by the New York Rangers for second place overall in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, finished with 5 points in 19 playoff contests. Although they are not a big number, Kako played a full game and was strong on either side of the puck. No doubt the big Finn impressed in the first playoffs of his NHL career.

Despite being scratched for the final game of the Eastern Conference Final, Kako did not pout.

“I like to play here,” Kako said. “I feel [the scratch] Inspires me more. I want to show that I am better than him. You should put me in the lineup because I am a good player.”

Rangers think so too.

Kako recently signed a two-year deal with AAV for $2.1 million per season and will be given a huge opportunity. Now it’s time to place him in one of the top two lines to see what he can do by playing about 18 minutes a night.

Vitaly Kravtsov needs to be seen for a long time

vitily kravtsov
April 6, 2021; New York, New York, USA; Vitaly Kravtsov #74 of the New York Rangers is checked by Marcus Petersen #28 of the Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period at Madison Square Garden on April 06, 2021 in New York City. Mandatory credit: Bruce Bennett/Pool Photo – USA TODAY SPORTS

It’s time for Vitaly Kravtsov to show he is ready for the NHL after a few turbulent years in the Rangers system. The issues between the 2018 NHL Draft and the former first-round pick, 9th overall in the organization, are well documented. Kravtsov bolted twice for Russia after failing to make the team out of camp, feeling he deserved to be in the lineup.

Kravtsov is under a lot of pressure this season to prove he was right and there couldn’t be a better time for him to do so.

Salary cap issues have forced Rangers to rely on young, affordable talent. Kravtsov signed a one-year extension this summer for $875,000 and should play a major role in the team’s third in line. The fact that his new deal is a one-sided contract requires him to go through a waiver in order to be sent down. This should mean that he will get more runway than the exempted youngster.

The 22-year-old Kravtsov had a strong 2021-22 campaign in the KHL. In 19 regular season competitions, he scored 6 goals and made 7 assists for 13 points. During the playoffs, he added 7 goals and 10 points in 15 games.

After playing 20 games for Rangers in the tail-end of the 2020-21 season, he scored two goals and made two assists. That experience will be beneficial to both Kravtsov and Blueshirt this year as well.

“I don’t think we’ve ever wavered from his stance, he’s an all-world genius. He does a lot of things on the ice that not many people can.” GM Chris Drury said, “Like everyone else, your play decides where you end up. But we are definitely happy to have him back in the mix. ,

One thing I can’t stress enough to close this story is that Rangers can’t move Lafrenier to the right wing and then play either of Kravtsov’s top two lines. It would be a huge mistake to put Kako in the third line after paying his dues for three seasons to get this opportunity.

Rangers need to see what they have in Kravtsov, and maybe even build their trade value for the time frame. They can’t do it at the expense of Kakko, who has done everything they said to the organization in less than three years or without complaint.

Given how close the next wave of prospects like Brennan Othman, Will Coyle, and Nils Lundqvist are to making their mark, this would send a bad message across the organization.

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