We have a global edition of Prospects News & Rumors today. A New York Rangers prospect got back in the column in Russia while a former second-round pick is heading to Finland for the remainder of the season. Back in the United States, the ECHL is ready to announce a new franchise in the southeast.
Vitaly Kraftsov Leads Traktor to Victory
We have written quite a bit about Kravtsov and his season in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). The Rangers’ 2019 first-round draft pick (ninth overall) is spending the entire season in his native Russia and has performed well.
Kravtsov came out of the Christmas break red hot with three goals in four games. However, he since gone games in a row without finding the back of the net. He led the charge in Traktor Chelyabinsk’s 3-2 win over BarysNur-Sultan on Tuesday, snapping their four-game winning streak.
He had a great chance early in the game, by getting behind the defense, but was denied by goaltender Joni Ortio. He came back later in the second period and scored the eventual game-winning goal as Traktor has now won four out of their last five games.
Kravtsov now has 14 goals on the season, which are the most in the entire KHL among players 21-years-old and younger.
Jeremy Bracco Heads to Finland
One may wonder how much longer we can consider Bracco an NHL prospect. The 23-year-old right winger was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the second round (61st overall) of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. He was heralded for his great vision, excellent passing skills and superb skating ability. However, he has yet to play a single game in the NHL.
Bracco had a very successful junior career in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). He had a total of 46 goals and 147 points in 106 career games with the Kitchener Rangers and Windsor Spitfires. He was part of the Spitfires team that won the Memorial Cup in 2017.
From there he spent the next three seasons in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Toronto Marlies. His rookie season ended with a Calder Cup championship in 2018. He followed that up with 22 goals and 79 points in 75 games during the 2018-19 season.
In October of 2020, Bracco signed a one-year contract with the Carolina Hurricanes and now it looks like is not going to play a game withing the organization. Earlier today, news broke that he signed with KalPa of Finland’s Liiga for the rest of the 2020-21 season.
The Hurricanes originally assigned Bracco to their new AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, back on Jan. 12. Today, they placed him on unconditional waivers with the intent to terminate his contract. The skating and the ability to set up his teammates have always been there, but for whatever reasons, he has not been able to translate that into an NHL roster spot.
ECHL is Coming to Georgia
To say the 2020-21 season has been a challenge for the ECHL would be a gross understatement. A total of 11 teams opted out of the season and they have had numerous games postponed due to COVID-19 concerns. However, the 2021-22 season is looking bright as not only will those 11 teams be back in the mix, but so will a brand new team in Savannah, GA.
According to a report from WTOC 11, Savannah Mayor Van Johnson will host a news conference Wednesday to welcome the newest ECHL hockey franchise to the city.
The Oak View Group is managing the new arena in Savannah. If that name sounds familiar it is because they spearheaded the renovation of the Key Arena in Seattle, which is now known as Climate Pledge Arena, and will be the home of the Kraken. This, of course, has led to speculation that the new Savannah team with be the NHL’s newest team’s ECHL affiliate.
This will be the second ECHL club in the state of Georgia, joining the Atlanta Gladiators. The southeast of the United States is well represented in the league with teams in Jacksonville and Orlando, FL as well as North Charleston, South Carolina.
Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has been a site manager for both FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully credentialed for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers are covering the Blackhawks, the AHL, writing the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serving as a copy editor, and appearing and hosting multiple YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is credentialed with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to provide topic suggestions, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.