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Rangers’ Vitali Kravtsov is heading back to AHL

SAN JOSE, Calif. — It didn’t work out, so Vitali Kravtsov is on his way back. As of Thursday afternoon, the Rangers were ironing out the details to get the 19-year-old forward they took with the ninth-overall pick in 2018 back from his native Russia and to a spot with AHL Hartford.

Kravtsov, who had been close to making the Rangers out of training camp, was sent to start the season with the Wolf Pack, but lasted just five games before utilizing the European Assignment Clause in his contract and going back to the KHL. Because Kravtsov is set to turn 20 on Dec. 23, the first year of his entry-level deal was being burned no matter where he played.

But his role had been minimized for his Russian team, Traktor, and they recently sent him to a remote minor league, the VHL. That is when Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton started talking to Kravtsov’s agent, getting the wheels in motion for him to return.

Kravtsov posted a message on his Instagram page Thursday afternoon thanking the Traktor fans, and the Rangers were hoping they would see him in Hartford sooner rather than later.

Vitali Kravtsov
Vitali KravtsovAnthony J. Causi

“There is a lot of talent there, and I think a lot of guys go through that adjustment period when they come from Europe, to adapt to North American-style of hockey,” Rangers coach David Quinn said before Thursday’s 6-3 win over the Sharks. “He’s a … kid that’s learning what it’s going to take to have success over here.”


Winger Brendan Lemieux was a game-time decision, but he didn’t even take warm-ups and did not play. Quinn said he got dinged up during the 3-1 loss in Los Angeles on Tuesday.


Coming in was Micheal Haley, who joined a fourth line with Brett Howden and Brendan Smith. The third line was Greg McKegg, Filip Chytil and Jesper Fast.


Defenseman Marc Staal missed a few shifts late in the second period after he blocked a shot with his right ankle — the same ankle on which he had emergency surgery Nov. 9. He returned and played the rest of the game.


Rookie defenseman Adam Fox played his 30th game of the season Tuesday night in Los Angeles, which was the conditional threshold that turned a third-round pick into a second-round pick the Rangers must send the Hurricanes in the deal that brought him to New York.

The deal also included another second-round pick, so it is now completed with two seconds for the 21-year-old, who has proven to be NHL ready.

“He’s worth everything we gave up and more,” Quinn said.