Pavel Buchnevich can help define Alain Vigneault’s Rangers tenure

Pavel Buchnevich
” Mr Vigneault… please play me!” Photo: Andreas Hillergren/AFP/Getty Images

We keep hearing the comparisons between Evgeni Kuznetsov and Rangers prospect Pavel Buchnevich. Also how Buchnevich bested KHL numbers from a certain Vladimir Tarasenko – arguably the best young sniper in the NHL today. We also hear that expectations should be tempered for Buchnevich partly based on the period of adjustment required for the aforementioned rising stars – and rightly so. No one should expect Buchnevich to come in with no English, no exposure to the North American style of hockey and pot 30 goals as nice as that would be.

With all that said, not only can Buchnevich significantly help the Rangers on the ice – by adjusting quickly to the rigours of the NHL – but he can help Alain Vigneault and the perceived notion that he is a veteran-favouring coach who often ignores developing younger players for immediate gains.

Some of the recent accusations levied at Vigneault may be true. Even allowing us to disregard similar ‘habits’ during his time in Vancouver his way with younger Rangers players lead us to believe he trends towards his veterans more than he should. The way he handled Dylan McIlrath this season was beyond baffling. The way he was (seemingly) harder on JT Miller than he was on others and the way he utilised Oscar Lindberg suggests that Vigneault doesn’t focus enough on developing the next wave of Rangers as much as it is required. With all the stagnation in New York this year, Vigneault’s reputation has been tarnished and his usage of younger players isn’t helping his rep.

Whether it is born out of need or not (and it is), pushing Buchnevich meaningfully is Vigneault’s opportunity to change perceptions as well as develop the Rangers offensively. The Rangers need an infusion of talent up front and Buchnevich is it. He should be given legitimate consistent ice time, a long leash and be allowed to learn on the fly – and not be afraid to make mistakes…with reason.

In what is still a mediocre but quickly improving Eastern Conference the Rangers can allow Buchnevich to play top six minutes, maybe even underwhelm to begin with and – accounting for necessary improvements on defense and special teams – can still make the playoffs; even if Buchnevich at times is a passenger. But it’s on AV to do it.

Let us not forget that this year’s addition of the Rangers made the playoffs with a meagre 15 goals from their one true top line forward in Rick Nash. This team saw regression from Kevin Hayes, stagnation from Chris Kreider and squeezed out bigger minutes than should have been expected from the consistent but not a top six forward, Jesper Fast. And yet still, the team’s relative depth at least got them to the first round.

Evgeni Kuznetsov’s first full NHL regular season generated just 11 goals but he was already much more dangerous in his first go around in the playoffs. Kuznetsov has been allowed to grow on a talented Caps roster and the Rangers need to do the same with their own prized Russian prospect. Vigneault can afford to put him out on the ice and he will be seen to be developing an important prospect.  If Buchnevich grows quickly (and even if he doesn’t) AV will help dispel the prospect ignorant accusations thrown in his direction.

Developing Buchnevich properly is a win-win-win scenario. The player gets better, the team benefits from it in a multitude of ways but so too does Alain Vigneault himself. Plenty riding on one prized prospect it seems. Plenty of reasons to give Buchnevich meaningful ice time.

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  • obviously AV has to adjust his philosophy in regards to younger player development, The Rangers are now in somewhat of a youth reconstruction mode and if AV cant be a positive force in that, he needs to be replaced, period! A number of times the past couple of seasons. the way he handled some of the younger players, was a joke and made little sense. I think he is a darn good coach overall, but in this area, he must make some needed adjustments or move on. The times they are a’ changing!

  • What will AV do with Skjei and McIlrath this year if they make the team out of camp. Skjei can still go down but McI has to make the team or be subject to waivers again . Should be an interesting year in Ranger Town

  • With all the stagnation in New York this year, Vigneault’s reputation has been tarnished and his usage of younger players isn’t helping his rep!

    OK, now the crap will hit the fan if AV doesn’t adjust to reality, or will it? He will be forced to make the necessary adjustments if he wants to be gainfully employed in the future. The game has changed,the roster has to be turned over to a certain extent, the old guard has to be shipped put, and make room for the kids.

    I for one think that Pavel could be a decent player, he’s not going to set the NHL on fire right away, so let’s give the kid the necessary time to adjust to a new country, rinks that have different dimension’s than what he grew up with, the distractions of the Big Apple, money in his pocket, fast women, etc !!!!!!

    A writer said that the Rangers have a reputation that they are an organization for being an old folks home for players, Joe Fortunato, and that reputation has got to change. If AV is to be successful in the future, he has to be willing to let the kids play, make mistakes, and encourage them, not nailed them to the pine bench !!!!!

    • AV doesn’t have a clue what happens in the outside world nor does he care. He has his system & he isn’t going to deviate from it. Remember how surprised he was laughing when the media told him he was being criticized on social media for overuse of Tanner Glass? Really? he says. But it will be interesting to see how he uses PB. Remember he initially put Duclair out there to start the season but that went South quickly.

  • Developing young talent is now part of the job description in the NHL. You want them to get the bulk of the education down on the farm, but they still have to be coached up when they get to gay Paree.

  • So, Buchnevich not only has to impact our team and its offensive production this season, but he now must perform well to elevate Vigneault’s profile on developing players?

    We’ve already set ourselves up for unwarranted disappointment.

    Can anyone provide quotes from players stating “Vigneault made me the NHL player I am today”? There’s your answer.

    • Zucc and Benny Pouliot owe their NHL careers to AV.

      AV’s use of those two and Brass on the third line in the 13-14 season was masterful. Once Zucc showed he was ready to play in all three zones he became a top 6 forward. Funny how that works, the coach asks you to do something, you do it, and the team and player benefit. There’s a term for that, what is it …. oh, great coaching.

      • Zuccarello “owing his career to Vigneault” is ludicrous.

        Pouliot, I agree. No other coach would have stuck with a guy for 30 games to find his game. Vigneault saw something most of us didn’t; credit to him for Pouliot.

        • I don’t know. Zucc was pretty mediocre in his first run here, he came back from the KHL pretty hot, but didn’t flourish until AV’s tenure. I think it’s a bit of both. Obviously Zucc had elevated his game by the time AV arrived, but I think AV helped establish him to the level of player he is now. Under Torts, Zucc would probably not be in the NHL anymore.

          • Zucc was awful his first month under AV. He even managed to find his way into the press box for a game.

            Like 43 said, Zucc wasn’t very impressive under Torts, he was looking very much like a career AHL guy, all offense, no D.

            It’s not that AV saw something in Pouliot, everyone saw something in the guy, he was a #4 overall draft pick in 2005, after all. Pouliot played for 4 different teams before joining the Rangers. AV was the first guy that finally managed to get Pouliot to be a consistent factor, which is, you know, player development. And for the record, some of the other NHL coaches that failed with Benny, Jaques Lemaire and Claude Julien.

  • Pavel has to be used correctly put him with good wingers like fast and lindberg it is time for change in rangerstown

  • I wish to disagree with the notion that Nash is the one true top line forward on the Rangers. There are thirty teams and so ninety (!) top line players. Of course, the best 90 forwards aren’t divided three to a team. Some teams have more, others less, but lets look at the Rangers in scoring.

    Zuccarello was tied for ninth among right wings in a not very surprising year. If a top ten right wing isn’t a top line forward, geez. Brass was 23rd among centers, surely a top liner. Step was tied for 32nd among centers missing ten games. Kreider was 29th among left wings. Considering injuries and my inclination to rate centers over wings, I’d include Step and not Kreider. Both are arguable, but the first two are not.

  • Does anyone here know if Bucnevich is going to be Kuznetsov or Zherdev? No. So how about we let the kid get 50 NHL games under his belt before we see if he makes or breaks AV’s legacy.

    • Because we are all in Hockey withdrawal and need to talk about the team.

      Just saying…

      not to mention, last night I heard all about Stralman, Boyle, Callahan, Hagelin, Cullen, and Sullivan…

      What would the playoffs be without Ex Rangers this year eh!!!!

      OY JEY!!!

  • Very off topic – But I just got to say it.

    If I am going to start a Hockey Club, I want Carl Hagelin on my team. The dude is like the Energizer Bunny.

    Hags is the epitome of what has been wrong with the Rangers front office. Either they are really poor at understanding what makes their team tick or they are just plain pompous – or both.

    Trading him without even understanding, let alone discussing, what he was looking for in terms of a contract is just ignorant. Yes the had a cap problem. But you know there are other ways and 20 other bodies that are in play to alleviate that problem.

    After letting Stralman and Boyle, to a degree walk away, without discussion – you would think you would want to understand the whole picture of what they are dealing with before making moves. MSL’s and his speed was leaving – should we really let Hags go if it is an uptempo game we want to play?

    Yesterday Rutherford was named as a finalist for GM of the year. Well he’s got my vote. Going out and getting Hags has turned out to be a hugely impactful move for them. I hate the Pens and I just cringe when I see Hags out there. But he was a total monster again last night. He keeps going, and going, and going….

    Everyone from the front office, to the coaching staff, to the equipment managers, to the Blue Seat Bloggers knew early on that a huge hole had been created by his absence. Why not put some feelers out there to see what it would take to get him back? And we certainly had $4M in dead assets in which to work a deal and cover his cap. It’s all hindsight now – but I am sure there was a deal that could have been made. He was obviously available as Pitt found out.

    It is the mentality of GM’s like Rutherford that separate him from our braintrust (oxymoron).

    Now ask me how I really feel…..

    • Like you said, it’s all hindsight.

      Hags is playing much better hockey now than he ever played in New York, plus he’s got Phil Kessel to feed the puck to. Can’t blame management for a lack of foresight. Maybe you could blame the coaching. I guess playing Hags with Carcillo in the Finals may not be the most effective deployment. But what did he do here that you would have lined him up next to Nash?

      • I’ll throw in coaching as part of the problem but I have to disagree on the front office. Foresight from the boys upstairs is one of the key issues with this team.

        Lack of foresight is how you end up with no first round draft choices, now no second round draft choices, a pretty bare prospect cupboard, and a bunch of guys who are not worth their contracts and who can’t be moved without there permission…..

          • Well that’s the problem – it is not just about Hagelin – he just another example.

          • Hagelin, strallman, duclair, stempniak…..

            Insane how our GM’S , coaches cant assess talent when it appears so blatantly obvious

          • No more Stempniak stuff please. The guy went on multiple goal draughts while here. Never did much of anything. He’s played for like 9 teams in the last four years. He’s not a savior.

      • Viktor Stalberg is basically Carl Hagelin. If you think Hags alone turned around Pitt, then you are deluding yourself. Hags on this year’s Rangers team would have had very little affect as all the Rangers problems stemmed from the deplorable play of the defense corps.

        The defense corps submarined the PK, they had a hard time breaking out cleanly on a consistent basis, and they were pretty poor with their decision making at the opponent’s blue line. Previously, those were three of the four pillars of the Rangers game, along with stellar goaltending. Carl Hagelin would have helped little in those three departments.

        Now, if you want to say the front office botched things by letting Stralman go, I’m listening …

          • How do you figure?

            Both are fast.
            Both are defensively responsible.
            Both don’t shy away from hits.
            Both are bottom 6 forwards.

            The only difference is that Hagelin posts about 10 points more a season but costs 4 times as much.

        • “Viktor Stalberg is basically Carl Hagelin”—might be the single most dumb thing I’ve read on this subject since the trade was made. At least I got a smile out of it.

      • He did play next to Nash & the line of Hags-Step-Nash was very dynamic, was broken up & never reappeared again.

    • Welcome to the dark side, my friend? I’ve been fighting this fight since last years draft. The Hags ship has sailed, leaving Ranger mgmt.,and us, on the shore waving goodbye to another valuable asset with nothing to show for it in return!

      • *Nothing yet. Before you say something as absolute, wait to see what becomes of Jensen, Gropp, and (who knows) that 6th round pick we got from Vancouver.

        • The team was poised to make another run with the cast that they had. I’m not interested in years down the road, when they will have rebuilt once again. They damaged themselves, and RIGHT NOW, have nothing to show for it.

  • I’m not sure what you guys are reading here. I said Hags’ trade without a contract discussion typifies the way the NYR from office operates.

    Hags is not what turned Pit around and I didn’t say that. But he sure has helped and as I did say, it has been a hugely impactful move for them. So was the coaching change and so was the influx of youth from the AHL.

    Trading Hags and letting Strals, B. Boyle walk without discussing contracts with either of them is stupid and pompous. Then signing D. Boyle, & Glass to replace them is just fool-hardly and shows no sense of talent evaluation and worse, shows how out of touch the front office is with the pulse of this team.

    Making questionable deadline trades that leave you without any impactful draft picks when you know there are very few prospects in the pipeline already – is the definition of “no foresight” – which was the context of my post.

    It wasn’t about Hags, it was using Hags as the latest example. You can rationalize all those deadline deals very easy in the name of “Hank’s Window”, and “One more Kick at the Can” but the bottom line is sooner or later it is going to catch up to you. And it clearly has.

    And you can rationalize all of the FA contacts of this regime – Holik, Drury, Redden, Richards, etc the same way. But that has also caught up and now we have STALL and Girardi underperforming on long-term overpriced deals where they can’t be moved – not that anyone wants them – without their permission.

    Would Hags on this years team be effective as he is with the Pens. No Way. But isn’t that point? We have a team of middling ability forwards and one or two solid defenseman and a premier Goalie most of the time. We have no 1st or 2nd round draft picks and little in the way of prospects except Buch – who hopefully won’t crumble under all of the expectations that are being heaped on him already.

    This is the team the front office has assembled and sorry, but it is just not that good. And that is on Sather. Hopefully Gorton can do something about it.

    • Swarty

      Agree 10000000000%, but as long as the cigar puffing turd is involved, Gorton will never be able to shine, and do his thing……Now that is a sorry remark, and thought, but the truth !!!!!!!!!!!

      • Do we think that turd made bad moves? YES

        so why is Gordon going to shine, maybe Turd made a bad move getting him?

    • Well it’s not like he was completely injury-free and didn’t miss a fourth of the season either…

  • The eye test shows me the obvious……Hagelin has made a Hugh difference on the pens…
    he opens up the ice for kessel etc…….
    taking his speed off the rangers and putting it on the pens is the biggest difference in this years teams……

    I love stallbergs game ….he is not quite as fast as hagelin but a little more skilled with the puck and hits a ton….thats why letang crosschecked him in the face…..

    the rangers non-response to that sent the message that ‘we dont care’……in my day he gets jumped and pummeled for what he did……

    never trade that kind of speed and pk ability……rangers mngt is moronic…..
    still sick over the st louis trade…….strallmen leaving……duclair trade……..
    i also would have kept poulet over stepan……

    must dump AV, girardi, moore, both stalls…..bring up kids…..
    i would investigate a mcdonagh, stepan, fast….etc ….trade for PK subban!!!!!
    we traded park and ratelle …….why not???

    • Home run comments Rich, spot on with Letang’s 2 hand chop to Stalbergs face ( like he was cutting down a Redwood) absolutely no retaliation, A reflection on how their coach ( AV) looks at the physical /nasty side of the sport. The one player who was ready to make the Pens life a little uncomfortable ( Mcllrath) played one game, which they won, but was left out to dry the rest of the series..

      • yup …I noticed that too, the only game we won McIlrath was playing….
        he may not have the speed t keep up with Pens but he seems to make the rangers team play better… girardi is out of the lineup…..

        I was not a torts fan but he wouldnt let this happen……
        Stallberg and kreider are heavy body checkers and letang didnt like getting hit hard…..

        the rangers need to put up a picture of letang up in the locker room with a bullseye on it …..couple of hard check, late or not and couple of elbows to the head would send a message…cant count on the league…

  • Front office fault…. maybe, but who decides who’s playing every nite? AV.. The players, front office and the other coaches don’t have a say who AV dresses each game. All this crap about letting B Boyle walk, he didn’t want to be here unless he got the playing time he wanted.. Sorry… I agree with management, Bye Brain. Hags is playing his ass off because he’s been traded twice in two years and is scared he’s on his way out of the NHL. Pit† has him on a line that works and that’s great for him. Great speed but like Kreider but how many in the back of the net? Kreider is another project that isn’t working out. He can’t hit the net with a car. Rangers can’t win the cup without a number ONE player. Scoring, skating, shooting, you know, the player we DON’T have. The teams that get to the finals and win have that number ONE player. WE DON’T !!! All this other crap is just a waste of time. I’ve been a Ranger fan 63 years and we had that number ONE, ONCE AND WON. Whoever said we’re a bust with NO number one Draft choice, he’s right on. Nobody is gonna give us a #1 so we better draft him, but it ain’t gonna happen with a #6 draft choice.
    One mans Opinion

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