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NHL Mock Draft 2018: Philadelphia Flyers select Vitali Kravtsov with No. 19 pick

Our second pick of the draft goes to a big Russian winger who came on strong late in his first KHL season.

A neat thing about Vitaly Kravtsov is that he can float. Not sure about the practicality of that on an ice hockey rink, but it’s good to know.
Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

Yesterday, we (on behalf of the Philadelphia Flyers) made our first pick in the 2018 SBNation NHL mock draft, grabbing center Rasmus Kupari with the 16th pick after a trade-back. After a brief two-pick recess, we’re back on the clock with our own pick.

To run down the draft to this point:

  1. Buffalo selects Rasmus Dahlin, via Die By The Blade.
  2. Carolina selects Andrei Svechnikov, via Canes Country.
  3. Montreal selects Filip Zadina, via Eyes on the Prize.
  4. Ottawa selects Quinn Hughes, via Silver Seven.
  5. Arizona selects Brady Tkachuk, via Five for Howling.
  6. Detroit selects Adam Boqvist, via Winging It In Motown.
  7. Vancouver selects Noah Dobson, via Nucks Misconduct.
  8. Chicago selects Oliver Wahlstrom, via Second City Hockey.
  9. New York Rangers select Evan Bouchard, via Blueshirt Banter.
  10. Edmonton selects Martin Kaut, via Copper & Blue.
  11. Washington* selects Jesperi Kotkaniemi, via Japers’ Rink.
  12. New York Islanders select Ty Smith, via Lighthouse Hockey.
  13. Colorado* selects Joe Veleno, via Mile High Hockey.
  14. Dallas* selects Joel Farabee, via Defending Big D.
  15. Florida selects Bode Wilde, via Litter Box Cats.
  16. Philadelphia selects Rasmus Kupari, via Broad Street Hockey.
  17. New Jersey selects Barrett Hayton, via All About The Jersey.
  18. Columbus selects Isac Lundstrom, via The Cannon.

* Trades:
NY Islanders traded the 11th pick to Washington in exchange for the 31st pick and Phillipp Grubauer.
Dallas traded the 13th pick to Philadelphia in exchange for the 14th pick and Petr Mrazek.
Philadelphia traded the 13th pick and the 127th pick to Colorado in exchange for the 16th pick and the 58th pick.

And with that, Ron Hextall strolls back up to the podium for the second time of the evening, looking just as thrilled as he did the first time.

With the 19th pick, Philadelphia selects, from Traktor Chelyabinsk, Vitali Kravtsov.

The basics

Position: Right Wing
Birthdate: 12/23/1999
Measurements: 6’2.75”, 184 lbs
Team/League: Traktor Chelyabinsk/KHL (Russia)
Handedness: Left
2017-18 Statistics:
4 G, 3 A in 9 GP (VHL)
4 G, 3 A in 35 GP (KHL)
6 G, 5 A in 16 GP (KHL Playoffs)

Another big swing on a skilled late-riser

We’ve discussed Kravtsov recently on this site — twice, in fact. Craig introduced him to us last week in his Let’s Know Some Guys series, while Kyle talked about him a bit more in-depth yesterday as he came up at No. 17 on our Community Draft Board. (For those keeping score at home, we’ve picked the player ranked highest on the Community Board on both of our picks in this mock. Don’t ever say that we don’t love you.) So if you want some more analysis on him as a player, take a gander over at those.

Kravtsov’s a talented player who at least in spurts can bring the complete package to the ice. He’s got good size, though some scouting reports question whether he uses that size as consistently and effectively as he could. He’s got great hands and stickhandling ability, and can absolutely wire the puck on net and pick his spots in doing so. And for someone of his stature, Kravtsov is a pretty smooth skater that moves well both in terms of straight-line speed and agility.

After ripping through Russia’s younger and lower levels in previous years, Kravtsov spent most of this season playing in the second-best hockey league on the planet, the KHL. Kravtsov’s role was limited for much of the season, as would that of most 17/18-year olds playing on a pretty good team (Traktor Chelyabinsk, which finished third in the KHL’s Eastern Conference) like he was. In 35 regular-season games with Chelyabinsk, Kravtsov posted 4 goals and 3 assists — not eye-popping numbers, but understandable ones while playing just 9:19 per game in a league where scoring’s not easy to come by.

Clearly, though, what Kravtsov was doing caught his coaches’ attention over the course of the season, because once the playoffs rolled around he was taking on more responsibility — and he made the most of it. In 16 games across three series (going all the way to the KHL’s Eastern Conference Finals), Kravtsov posted six goals and five assists, good for third in scoring on Traktor in the postseason. He did this while still only playing 13:21 per game — effectively bottom-six minutes, though not as pronounced as in the regular season. And underlying signs of improvement were there, too — after only shooting the puck on net, on average, once per game during the regular season, Kravtsov posted 2.3 shots on net per contest in those playoff games.

This is the part that really makes you wonder if Ron Hextall has his eye on the young Russian. Since his pick of Travis Sanheim with his very first selection as general manager of the Flyers, Hextall has shown a liking towards players who take big steps forward during their draft year. Travis Sanheim, Oskar Lindblom, Travis Konecny, and Wade Allison are all guys who came on strong later in the season after somewhat inconspicuous starts to their draft years, just to name a few. Kravtsov would certainly qualify to join that group; after being ranked 10th in Central Scouting’s midterm rankings for European skaters, Kravtsov ended up at 3rd in their final rankings.

A big, skilled winger who’s proven that he can hack it in a very difficult league, who clearly seems to be trending in the right direction, is worthy of a shot at this pick in the first round. Kravtsov’s long-term timeline to the NHL is unclear at this point — he’s under contract with Chelyabinsk for one more season — and there’s always at least a touch of risk of Russian-born players staying overseas as the KHL continues to grow. But the upside seems pretty substantial, and just as we were thrilled that Kravtsov was on the board at No. 19 in our mock, we’d be thrilled if Hextall grabbed him in the real thing next Friday.

That’s our second pick of the draft, so barring further shenanigans that’s all we’ve got for you. We’ll circle back again once the (mock) draft is done for good measure; until then, follow along with the mock draft here, and let us know your thoughts on this pick using the comments and/or the poll below.


How do you feel about our selection of Vitali Kravtsov with the No. 19 pick in the SBN NHL mock draft?

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    Love it - he’s who I’d have picked too
    (250 votes)
  • 31%
    Like it - not my #1 choice here, but happy with it
    (183 votes)
  • 18%
    Meh - I accept it, but definitely not the way I’d have gone
    (103 votes)
  • 6%
    Hate it - I am disgusted with this pick and you should feel bad about it
    (36 votes)
572 votes total Vote Now