The Rangers have played 10 games so far this season and a couple of things are starting to stand out. The most obvious one is that their speed is driving their offense, leading to a wealth of goals spread out fairly evenly across the roster. Another thing that’s plainly evident is that the Rangers’ young guns are really contributing in a meaningful way, whether it’s Jimmy Vesey, Kevin Hayes, or Mika Zibanejad. All of this speed and scoring might lead one to wonder however, about Pavel Buchnevich.
Buchnevich came into this season a much-hyped prospect whose KHL numbers invited comparisons to guys like Artemi Panarin and Evgeny Kuznetsov. He’s an adept playmaker and a responsible defensive forward, digging for pucks along the boards and setting up his linemates with timely passes. The one thing he hasn’t done yet at a time in season when the Rangers are scoring left and right (how about that shooting percentage?) is score a goal.
While this might be cause for some concern, I’m here to tell you that it’s actually all good. The first thing that needs to be said is that he’s a developing prospect and it’s early in the season – he’s probably not going to score a ton of goals anyways this season and he’s only just starting to adapt to the NHL game and the Rangers’ system. Although the KHL is a competitive league and he played well over there, there’s still a significant jump in the talent level between the KHL and NHL, and he has to learn a new system while also learning a whole new language, both of which would be hard enough individually.
It’s also important to note that he’s been injured for half of the Rangers’ games so far this season. There really isn’t a whole lot that needs to be said here; give him five more games and he likely pots at least one goal with the way these Rangers have been playing.
Lastly, there’s the numbers. Even with varying linemates (I would like to see him stick with Zibanejad, but it’s really alright because AV distributes ice time pretty evenly) he’s managed to put up a raw CF% of 59.17%. In terms of scoring chances he’s even better, logging a 66.67 SCF% through the five games he has played. His relative numbers look just as good – not only is he playing well objectively, but he’s also been playing well compared to the rest of the guys on the team. His relCF% is 9.75% and his relSCF% is 15.05%.
For a guy who can’t seem to find the back of the net, he sure is contributing to the offense in a serious way. It’ll come eventually, and when it does it’ll be great. All we have to do as fans is be patient, which I know can be tough sometimes with highly touted prospects, but it’s early and the Rangers are playing lights out anyways, so why worry about a guy with abnormally bad puck luck? He’s been right there a few times already so far, and it’s going to happen one of these days. Don’t panic.