Vitali Kravtsov’s future role tops Rangers questions after break

The Rangers entered their Christmas vacation with a 19-11-5 record after a 5-3 win over the Islanders on Thursday night. Here are three things to look out for when the Rangers season resumes Tuesday night against the Capitals:

Will head coach Gerard Gallant give Vitali Kravtsov another top-six look?

Vitali Kravtsov celebrates a goal for Rangers on December 2, 2022.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

This is probably the safest bet to make of the possibilities listed here. Not only have Gallant already made in-game adjustments to propel Kravtsov into the top six in recent games, but surely there are instructions from management as to what the Russian winger is capable of in different roles. It’s probably only a matter of time before Kravtsov breaks into the top six again. The fourth line is no place for Kravtsov if the Rangers want to see if No. 74 will sink or swim in the NHL.

Will Igor Shesterkin continue on this path back to untouchable status?

After a shaky start to the season that is only classed as shaky due to the standard he set for himself last season, Shesterkin has been much stronger in Rangers’ recent pre-holiday spell. He is back in the NHL goaltending rankings with a 2.44 goals-against-average.

Will we see Zac Jones again this season?

Zac Jones skates for Rangers on November 3, 2022.
Zac Jones skates for Rangers on November 3, 2022.
NHLI via Getty Images

Considering the fact that the Rangers are one defenseman injury away from making an AHL Hartford call, that’s also a likely event. However, it will be interesting to see if Jones is brought back based on a management decision rather than necessity. Jones split his time with Libor Hajek earlier this season, but now Ben Harpur has seemingly passed both defenders on the depth chart after skating in each of the last five games.

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