Vitali Kravtsov

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Rangers Draft Russian Winger Vitali Kravtsov With 9th Overall Pick

Add Pair Of Defensemen Later In Round

June 22, 2018 - 10:54 pm
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By WFAN.com

The Rangers used the first of three first-round draft picks Friday night on Russian winger Vitali Kravtsov before grabbing a pair of defensemen.

In his rookie year in the KHL this past season, Kravtsov, selected with the ninth overall pick, totaled seven points in 35 games. Though his regular season was a bit underwhelming, the 6-foot-3 winger added 11 points in 16 playoff games.

The 18-year-old is a natural scorer with a tremendous shot and strong puck control, scouting reports say. Kravtsov is most lethal in the open ice as he can reach top speeds after just one or two strides and is particularly adept at creating odd man rushes.

"Just a lot of hockey sense, a lot of skill," new Rangers coach David Quinn told NBCSN of Kravtsov. "People rave about his character. He was a guy who we talked an awful lot about over the last month, and we're ecstatic to get him."

Kravtsov will need to improve his consistency from game to game upon his arrival in North America, some scouts says. Although, the winger will likely remain in Russia for at least another year, as he is under contract for the 2018-19 season in the KHL.

MORE: Hartnett: David Quinn Brings Yet Another New Approach To Rangers

The Rangers also entered the night with the 26th and 28th overall picks -- and owned seven picks in the first three rounds. They traded up from No. 26 to No. 22 to select American defenseman K'Andre Miller. The Blueshirts sent the 26th and 48th overall picks to the Ottawa Senators in the deal.

Miller, 18, was part of the United States' silver medal-winning team at the World U18 Championship, where he had a goal and two assists in seven games. He had four goals and 12 assists in 22 games with Team USA in the USHL.

Miller has only played defenseman for two seasons. The athletic 6-foot-4 prospect is committed to the University of Wisconsin next season.

He said he was honored that the Rangers traded up for him.

“To have an organization like that come to you and really want you that bad really means a lot,” Miller told NBCSN. “It shows all your hard work and dedication pays off in the end.”

The Rangers used the 28th overall pick on Swedish defenseman Nils Lundkvist. 

The 17-year-old shot up draft boards in recent months after drawing attention while playing among men in the Swedish hockey league and for the Swedish national team.

Draftin Europe describes Lundkvist as a “mobile puck-moving defenseman who likes to make quick decisions and join the rush. Lundkvist displays confidence with the puck on his stick.”

After a shaky start to the season, the Rangers' front office shifted its focus to the future by trading away veterans Ryan McDonagh, J.T. Miller, Rich Nash Michael Grabner and Nick Holden for a host of prospects and draft picks.

The team fired coach Alain Vigneault after a 34-39-9 season and replaced him with Quinn, the former Boston University coach.