The Rangers have agreed to terms on entry-level contracts with Russian goaltender Igor Shesterkin and forward Vitali Kravtsov, the team announced Friday.
A day earlier, the Rangers announced they had signed defenseman Adam Fox, 21, a Jericho native whose rights they acquired on Tuesday from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a pair of draft picks.
Shesterkin, 23, and Kravtsov, 19, are not on the Russia squad that has been playing pre-World Championships tuneup games, though either or both could be added before the tournament starts Sunday. Rangers goalie Alexandar Georgiev has been playing for Russia in the pre-tournament games.
The arrival of Shesterkin, a fourth-round pick by the Rangers in the 2014 NHL Draft, will set up an interesting battle in training camp between he, Georgiev and Henrik Lundqvist for the spots on the opening night roster.
Shesterkin has played parts of the last six seasons in Russia’s KHL, and his career 1.68 goals-against average is the best in KHL history for goaltenders who have played in at least 50 games. He was 24-3-1 with a league-best 1.11 GAA in 28 games for SKA St. Petersburg this season.
Kravtsov, the Rangers’ first of three first-round picks in the 2018 draft, had eight goals and 13 assists in 50 games for a bad Traktor Chelyabinsk team. He led all KHL players under 20 in goals, assists and points, and he represented Traktor in the KHL All-Star Game.
Kravtsov at this point would be expected to make the Rangers and be part of a youth movement that presumably would include Filip Chytil, 19, Brett Howden, 21, and likely Fox, who is a favorite to make the team after turning pro this summer following three years of college hockey at Harvard. He was a finalist this season for the Hobey Baker Award as the nation’s top college player.
The Rangers won the second pick in the draft at the NHL Draft lottery last month and are expected to take either American Jack Hughes or Finland’s Kaapo Kakko, depending on whom the Devils take with the No. 1 pick. Either Hughes or Kakko, who played in Finland’s Liiga and had 22 goals and 16 assists in 45 games, would be favored to make the team out of training camp.