Nov
09

Let’s Pause For a Moment In Appreciation of Pavel Buchnevich

November 9, 2017, by

Every few years, a prospect comes along that makes a fan base salivate.  Of course, the expectations of fans are often unrealistic, and the success of supposed “top prospects” is never guaranteed (unless they’re in the category of say, Sidney Crosby or Connor McDavid).

A few years ago, Pavel Buchnevich became that prospect for Rangers fans.  Though he was just a third round pick, word spread quickly (along with plenty of impressive video highlights) that Buchnevich was the real deal.  Sporting great hands, a smooth stride and a high offensive IQ, the young Russian posted impressive point totals as a kid in the KHL, widely acknowledged as the second best league in the world.  When Buchnevich arrived in New York last year, everyone was anxious to see what he could do at the NHL level.

But the transition to North American hockey wasn’t smooth.  Buchnevich missed significant time with an injury, and often found himself either playing limited minutes or out of the lineup altogether.  Still, the dynamic Russian posted 20 points in 41 games, and was a key part of arguably the Rangers’ most dangerous line, the now ubiquitous Kreider-Zibanejad-Buchnevich (KZB) connection.

Fast forward to 2017-2018, and Buchnevich has begun to fulfill that potential, becoming a key cog in a suddenly potent Rangers attack.  He has 6 points in his last 5 games (3 goals, 3 assists) and 7-7-14 in 17 games this season, even though he was relegated to fourth line duty at times last month.  Just last night, he did this:

Buchnevich is oozing confidence right now, and that in-tight finish over Rask’s glove is an expression of pure skill that only truly talented players possess.  Also, who doesn’t love watching Zdeno Chara get spun like a top?  Dude had no chance on this play.

Of course, this recent run of success correlates with Alain Vigneault’s decision to finally reunite Buchnevich with Zibanejad and Kreider (something many of us, this blogger included, pleaded for).  Those three also see significant power play time together, with Kevin Shattenkirk quarterbacking a first unit rounded out by Mats Zuccarello.  Consistent time with the same linemates breeds chemistry, and in hockey, chemistry often breeds success.

It’s been fun to watch Buchnevich develop into a legitimate offensive weapon for the Rangers at the ripe old age of 22.  And while expectations remain perhaps a little bit too high, the kid is showing that he might have what it takes to meet them.

"Let's Pause For a Moment In Appreciation of Pavel Buchnevich", 5 out of 5 based on 19 ratings.
Categories : Players

29 comments

  1. Arisrules says:

    Fourth Liner and Vesey is much better than him right now as per Carp.

  2. Peter says:

    Pavel looks to be much stronger this season. That and being on the right line seem to have made a big difference.

    • Reenavipul says:

      Goes to the net, hard. Still could put on some more muscle, but miles stronger on the puck compared to last season.

    • Richter1994 says:

      He filled out physically which will also allow him to go through the season without being injury prone, hopefully.

  3. SalMerc says:

    Nice to see this kid do well. It must have been a very difficult transition from Russia and the KHL. I hope we have two more kids ready next year in Andersson and Chytil.

  4. Chris F says:

    This kid is the real deal. Right now, Zibanejad, Buchnevich, and Shattenkirk are probably out three most important pieces outside of the crease. None were here before last season.

    That’s a 24 year-old soon to be recognized elite #1 center, a 22 year-old soon to be recognized elite top-line winger, and a bona fide elite PP QB specialist.

    That’s not something the Rangers have boasted in a long, long time.

    • Mintgecko says:

      I think you could add JT and Hayes on there at the same time if AV remember’s their chemistry that they have. Let us all hope that Kreider makes this list of whoa’s by finally breaking out to stop being a opportunist and be more like the aggressor in the games. Does he ever want to make a open ice hit? I was watching Hartnell the other night dominate a whole period by forechecking and finishing his checks in the defensive zone.

      • Chris F says:

        Not sure Miller and Hayes are flirting with elite status just yet.

        Miller may be a more all-around product at this point than Kreider or Hayes, though, which is saying alot considering how back-and-forth his development has been over the years.

        So happy with the player he’s becoming. Kreider is right there, much higher potential, obviously, but something still not quite clicking with him. Hayes has all the tools to be a true power forward. Hope we start to see more from him.

  5. Richter1994 says:

    Quite simply, Zib, Buch, and Nash have been the Ranger forwards from the start of the season.

    Miller and Grabner have now joined the list.

    Zuc and Kreider are getting there.

    Hayes needs an offensive role but AV seems to want to use him defensively. Not a good use of Kevin’s offensive skillset.

    Buch is just getting started and scratching the surface. Think about it, probably the most elite forward talent drafted since Kovalev, Weight, and Amonte. Cherapanov (RIP) would have been. Tarasenko SHOULD have been.

  6. Mintgecko says:

    Buch and Zib are “that” duo for the top 6 but AV doesn’t want to get that going for Hayes game. He had the right idea last year when he gave him and JT more responsibility by facing other top lines and being that top pk unit especially after Hayes lead the league and team in shorthanded points. I think AV should go back to that with the idea of those two now shutting down other top lines with more opportunity to see the the ice time go up. This is where it hurts by not having a strong checking line in the bottom 6.

    Zucc’s game has been off since day 1 and hasn’t improved much since then. He’s played with Mika and DD and has looked no worst than he does right now. He’s not winning his board battles and his passing game seems to always be out of reach or in the skates to his teammates. He’s just a passenger on the PP right now and guys like Buch are doing majority of the playmaking on that side of the ice.

  7. Spozo says:

    He’s the best offensive talent this team has drafted since Cherapanev.

  8. Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

    This is from Carp’s column today….

    “It’s an observe-and-learn process that some call “tough love,” and others (fans mostly, and mostly incorrectly) think is a dislike or a distrust. But there’s nothing like a young player being taught things in practice sessions and through video and coaching, then being acclimated into actual game situations slowly.

    “Miller went through it, Kreider went through it. Most do. Sometimes, it takes a return to the minors (as it did with Miller and Kreider). Rare is the athlete that comes out of the minors or out of college, even out of Europe and immediately succeeds in a permanent top-six role.

    “Buchnevich, who came here speaking almost no English, then hit with the back issues in his rookie season, appears to have sponged up all that his coaches and teammates have offered. He has earned their trust with better decisions, better defensive-zone plays and puck management, and now can flourish offensively with a bigger role and more minutes.”

    Carp IMO is right on the money. I have always subscribed to this notion, and most every coach and GM I’ve ever known personally or professionally does as well. Sure, if you happen to draft a “can’t miss” prospect, then yes, he may have the talent and the know-how to make the jump and shine immediately.

    This from Brooks today on the same topic—

    “The Kreider-Mika Zibanejad-Buchnevich unit was intact for the first six games of the season. Despite their obvious chemistry, the trio had accounted for just one even-strength goal scored by Zibanejad as the Rangers took a 1-5 pratfall out of the gate. Coach Alain Vigneault shuffled things. Buchnevich spent the next six games on the fourth line — Guess what? It didn’t kill him — before the original first line was reconstructed five games ago.”

    That’s right….”Guess what? It didn’t kill him”. Nor did AV’s usage of him last year “stunt” his growth, which is the usual bogus narrative anytime AV goes slow with a young player.

    Buch is still learning. Still growing not just physically but mentally too. A little time on the 4th line teaches him to work more on the little things, fine tune his defensive game so that he can be a more complete player. Not to mention, AV wants contributions up and down the lineup. So it’s hardly a disaster to give him some time there.

    This team is coming along, but I still worry. The Rangers have had no manpower games lost to injuries yet. Do we have the depth to handle it when the inevitable injuries happen? Also, it’s clear that AV does not yet feel comfortable rolling four lines. Double shifting guys is going to burn them out. Sooner or later (hopefully sooner), JG is going to need to swing a deal or two. They’re winning but winning this way is likely unsustainable long range.

    I am pleased to see that Chytil apparently is playing quite well in Hartford. Perhaps he can still be of help this season. But he is only 18…it’s a lot to ask to expect him to jump right in and contribute in a meaningful way. And perhaps if ADA can find his game, he too can be recalled.

    We still need more to legitimately compete for a Cup, but look at the standings. Who in the Metro looks dominant? If everything breaks right, this can still be a special season for our Blueshirts.

    • Chris F says:

      Carp and Brooks are spot on.

      We Rangers fans are just incessantly b!tching and moaning and second-guessing. Most of it is uncalled for.

      There is very, very little to really be upset about in the development of Buchnevich, who, in less than 60 NHL games, has been rewarded with top-line and 1st PP unit duties and is being given every chance to succeed. And he’s doing just that.

    • Bloomer says:

      The team definately lacks depth up front and this could cost them a playoff spot if they get bitten by an injury bug.

      On the blueline they are in a better spot. Smith will eventually get himself into shape and they have the new guy Sprout? Delangelo, Boink and Graves all knocking on the door.

    • Egelstein says:

      The notion/narrative that teams only play “can’t-miss” young players at a solid rate and/or in vital roles is misguided, whether they are featured in the top-six or elsewhere. 21 year old 3rd-rounder Brayden Point is averaging 19:29 TOI/G for league-leading Tampa Bay, centering their second line. 19 year old 6th-rounder Jesper Bratt is averaging 16:00 TOI/G for NJ, playing on the left wing on their second line. Just a couple examples from this year from the top handful of teams in the league in points so far. There are, of course, more examples out there.

      Going back to one of the recent examples of a team REALLY letting a young guy fly – even if it meant falling out of the nest here and there – who wasn’t “ready physically” and/or “matured defensively” according to many old-timey pundits and Good Hockey Men…4th-rounder Johnny Gaudreau, who in the ’14-15 season and then 21 years old, averaged 17:43 TOI/G and put up 64 points in 80 games.

      It won’t kill Point or Bratt if their coaches decide to play them on the fourth line, any more than it killed Gaudreau. That hyperbolic way of looking at things is technically correct; they will not literally die. Doesn’t mean it would be the right call, though. Doesn’t mean they couldn’t have learned the same things with clipped ice time/sheltered roles that they could have with more ice time and more trust, while also bringing more upside potential than others who instead got the minutes. Doesn’t mean it didn’t set back or delayed their growth to some degree.

      Basically, to me, this type of outlook and justification of clipping high-potential younger players’ minutes or role is “Relax, they didn’t flunk out of the league, so it must have been the right move.” Does that sound pretty silly to anyone else?

      • Chris F says:

        Yeah, and Buchnevich is averaging 16:00 TOI while playing largely on the top line and excuslively on the 1st PP unit.

        Yet people are still complaining.

        • Egelstein says:

          My commentary here is a general commentary about a philosophy that many in the league hold, but some clearly don’t. While I was not personally impressed with Pavel being scratched for Glass last season or being assigned to the fourth line for even a game let alone several this season, I do like his deployment more of late. Which is, you know, why I’m not complaining about that in this comment above.

          • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

            Eg-

            This is really an excellent counterpoint to the points I made above, which clearly shows that there are two schools of thought on how best to handle young players. There probably isn’t a “right” or “wrong” way. Just two different philosophies.

            Just a couple of thoughts on the examples you gave.

            Brayden Point—He was drafted back in 2014. He made his debut when he was 20, not in his teens. He did get a full year of seasoning in Syracuse. And, I would argue that it is easier to break in an up and coming player like that when you have all-star talents like Stamkos and Kucherov.

            Jesper Bratt—He made his debut at 19yo. Definitely impressive, but lets face it, the Devils going into this season were supposed to be one of the worst teams in the league, so they were bound to have some openings if a player was talented enough to force his way into the lineup. This one may fall under the heading “necessity is the mother of invention”.

            Johnny Gudreau—drafted in 2011. Got the call at age 21 after his college career was done. Making the jump from college to pros, especially as the Hobey Baker winner, is not all that unusual.

            Looking at some recent Rangers, Kevin Hayes and Jimmy Vesey fit the Gudreau mode (not as good but still) and AV played them right away. Especially in Hayes’ case, AV wasted no time giving him significant responsibility on a team with Cup aspirations that went on to win the President’s Trophy.

            And last year, after a little minor league seasoning prior to that, Brady Skjei spent the whole season with the Rangers and made the all-rookie team.

            So I still don’t see how the Rangers and AV in particular really are handling things all that different than most other teams. I think it is fair to say though that there is no set formula. Players progress at different rates and organizations promote players based not just on their progression talent wise, but also their maturity (see Miller a few years back) and also organizational needs at the time.

            But great points for sure.

  9. Bloomer says:

    There is a graveyard of highly talented Ruskies who never able to adapt their game to the NHL. Buch is learning the ropes and improving every game. He has been impressive so far.

  10. tanto says:

    Buch’s next deal needs to be long term, a bridge deal should be out of the question. He’s our Kuznetsov.

    • Reenavipul says:

      For the Rangers, they should never do a bridge contract. Just frontload early so player takes advantage of future value of money, club takes advantage of later discount for lesser cap hit/ trade value

      • tanto says:

        Never say never because those deals can backfire on you a couple of years down the line, but I’m pretty sure guys like Buch, Skjei and Miller have their best days well ahead of them. What has stopped us more than anything has been the salary cap and the “win today at all costs” mentality of management.

      • Al Dugan says:

        Hmm….there is no such thing as a lesser cap hit. A front loaded deal still has an AAV that is the money divided by the term.

        • tanto says:

          Al, I think he meant to suggest the lower cap hit that comes from doing a long term deal early on as opposed to a bridge deal followed by a longer term deal.

        • Reenavipul says:

          When front loaded, the difference between cap hit and actual money being paid makes those players more valuable to teams dancing around the cap floor or with budgetary problems(AZ, CAR, OTT.)