Why Pavel Buchnevich is the most important forward on the Rangers

pavel buchnevich
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The Rangers should have already seen enough from Pavel Buchnevich that it should be the talented Russian (and Chris Kreider) that should be the cornerstone(s) of the offense moving forward. Of course, JT Miller, Kevin Hayes and Mika Zibanejad should be critical components of this team up front but no one has the upside of Kreider and Buchnevich.

The Rangers need to make some bold decisions about the state of the offense over the next half a season or so and any decision should revolve around Kreider and Buchnevich. The Rangers have a ton of young depth but none are more important than Buch.

Can you really focus an offense around a young man that has 17 games in the NHL? Yes you can. Is it too early to do so? Perhaps, but teams need to commit to their young talent earlier than ever in the current NHL and Buchnevich is a good example of a player you hitch your wagon to.

Buchnevich and Kreider are first line talents. They each offer skill sets that are hard to find and that’s not just in New York but across the entire league; Kreider, the raging bull of a power forward, Buchnevich the highly skilled playmaker. Indeed, it’s critical that Buchnevich develops ‘properly’ as it will make any eventual divorce from Rick Nash easier to swallow and allow the Rangers to truly address their blueline appropriately (aka allocate appropriate dollar to a major area of need).

Any significant changes to the blueline are going to cost money and a lot of it. Let’s assume Kevin Shattenkirk comes to New York in the summer (at the latest). Don’t expect that contract to be worth less than 7m per year. We all know that’s the going rate of an elite right handed defenseman who can move the puck.

If Buchnevich can continue with his level of production for the rest of the season and prove he can be a point/game, offensive contributor then the Rangers will have so much more margin for error when it comes to deciding who they can afford to sacrifice up front to help improve the blueline mess.

While Kreider is ahead of Buchnevich in his development (as he should be, for multiple reasons) Buchnevich is the Rangers most important young forward. Buchnevich and (to a lesser extent, also Miller) will dictate what the Rangers offensive looks like, because of the cost controlled nature of their respective contracts. If a team can get top six production out of rookie and bridge contracts it’ goes a long way in influencing a team’s competitiveness.

Amid all the talk of Jimmy Vesey’s struggles (it was inevitable – don’t panic), Mats Zuccarello’s lack of goals and the absence of Mika Zibanejad’s shot from the powerplay during his injury, it’s the return of Buchnevich that has given the Rangers the much needed balance that they need to compete with the more well rounded powerhouses in the East. Buchnevich is important now, but he’s critical tot he Rangers moving forward. It’s never too early to commit to an elite talent, especially one that is so important to the future of a franchise.

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  • Admittedly, 17 games is a very small sample size, but this kid absolutely makes a difference, in a good way, when he’s on the ice. He seems to have that special vision that sets the best players apart from the rest. Let’s hope that he doesn’t flame out, or get hurt, before we see him fully develop his skills.

  • Puleeeeeeeeze. He is every much the most important piece of the puzzle as Vesey is a horror show because he has hit the wall playing on the 3rd and 4th line. Are you serious or is this “All-Star Break FIller”. Don’t get me wrong, he is a nice player, dare I say a good player, but top 2 young player? Can we let him play 30 games before we anoint him that honor? He may be Pavel Brendl for all we know. Let him put on 20 lbs. of muscle, practice in the off-season, go home and see some friends and let 2017-18 show how good he really can be. He isn’t Connor McDavid, but we know that, and that is okay. But can we let him be what he can be and NOT do what the NY media does to all good kids and hand high expectations on him and ruin him before he turns 24?

    • I think you’re taking this the wrong way, Sal. What’s wrong with Chris identifying talent in a player he thinks is (will become) an organizational building block? He’s predicting how he thinks the Rangers roster should take form based on what he’s seen from PB over his shortened first half nhl season. It speaks volumes to what Chris has seen from PB to consider him over the likes of Zib, Hayes and Miller in roster decisions moving forward.

      Now you may not agree, but it’s nice to see someone inking a prediction. If you disagree, how then would you form your tiers of importance in current NYR assets? Will definitely be interesting to see how things play out.

      • As a building block, sure, as HE MOST IMPORTANT FORWARD ON THE RANGERS, I just think that is just an attention getting headline that needs to stay on the NY Post.

        Just trying to add a little perspective. Kind of like protesting at JFK that all people are not allowed into the US before you read what the actual Executive Order actually says.

    • Vessey has started out on 1 line, an now has been shifted around simillar to the problems Miller had when He arrived. He could score 20 goals this year which is a nice season. Just needs to settle in with one line.

      • JV is a big kid, he has potential in the power forward department…

        Bush has potential on the IR department…

        Remember we do not have anyone protecting out players from hits…

        look at how we’re being treated.. we have each others back, but thats not stopping the hits from coming…

        buch better hit the sauce or he’s gonna hit the hit for sure!

      • patience is key. No one should panic if he goes through a bad spell. So long as he’s given the time to work it out he’ll be fine. He’s obviosuly got an NHL skill set/talent level.

    • hyperbole! I am not sold on him being as good as the others you listed as only critical. Cornerstone, he can’t be called that yet.

    • Salmerc

      You are completely missing the point. I did not say he is the best forward on the team, nor the most complete. I said he’s becoming if not become the most important. His development is critical for so many reasons. There’s not much else coming up behind him, he’s cheap, he’s top line material and his development impacts almost every other skill based player in the top nine. That’s not to mention some of the chemistry he has shown with other players.

      IF he develops the way I think (and hope!) he can, then it will give the Rangers a lot of opportunity to be creative with how they build around him. I know the comparisons with Tarasenko are/were there for obvious reasons but I don’t see what he cannot do the same for the Rangers that VT did for the Blues.

      • Then I agree, he can develop into an excellent winger that gives the team great options. I am taking issue with the headline, which (kind of) looks like it is in the present tense and not in the future tense.

        His presence (pun intended) on the team will give us great options. He and Krieder along withJT and Vesey (yes, the Vesey that everyone gave up one in the previous article) will give us a solid core. Add in Zinbad and Hayes and you have some nice offense. Once again, the problem is the blueline, which can only be fixed by by moving some offensive assets or by free agency.

  • Appreciate the perspective, Chris. I’ve been trying all season to handicap the Rangers studs (ie Rank the top 5 forwards) and have found few who were willing to commit. Your take:

    Untouchable- Buchevnich / Kreider
    Less Touchable- Zibanejad / Hayes / Miller
    Touchable – Everyone else

    I appreciate the certainty of your opinion and don’t really find much fault in it. Will be interesting to see how we develop our group over the next 3-5 years.

    • Thanks Swayze…

      I think Buch and Kreider are utterly untouchable. I think Miller should be close behind and maybe Zibanejad. I’d also personally put Stepan in that category if we’re discussing beyond the ‘kids’, as every time needs a mature two way center and Stepan gives this club so much beyond just scoring. Those are the players you build around. Hayes is developing nicely but if he fetches you a great return in a trade he shouldn’t be considered untradaeable…. although I’d have to be a spectacular trade put together for me to want to trade such a player with upside.

  • I bet this same column will be written about 10 different ways over the next 2-3 years. Can we at least admit that he’s not even in the same conversation with the Leafs youngsters yet or Laine? Johnny Hockey played all 80 games when he was Pavel’s age and scored and put up points.

    So, let’s recap. Buch wasn’t ready for the NHL physicality this year. He’s missed significant time. He will get pushed around by bigger teams. Did nothing against Kings and Flyers. Should be an interesting last part of the season.

    Shattenkirk getting seven? I would pass.

    • I’m not saying he is in the same class but it frustrates me that we automatically assume Rangers prospects aren’t as good as others; like the ‘grass is always greener’ elsewhere.

      Everything Buch has done in his career to date – including the brief spell in the NHL thus far – suggest at an elite talent. Whether it was as a junior prospect, in the KHL or as a Ranger. He’s always produced above expectation, ahead of his development curve and he’s dealt with a lot of pressure that’s only increased. I think his potential is unlimited so long as he can cope physically and there’s no reason to suggest he can’t do that if the club continue to look after his long term outlook.

    • Al

      You hit the nail on the head, yes this kid will be good, maybe very good, but until he adds some 20 lbs of muscle mass on that narrow butt of his, well he may need a permanent room at the New York hospital……….As for Shatty asking for 7m, show him the door, he isn’t worth anywhere near that amount!!!!!

      • So true Walt, 7 mil, tell him he isn’t playing for the Rangers. I really don’t think his price will be that high, however.

        • Doc

          We’re stuck with two terrible contracts now, so what do we do, sign Shatty and go from the frying pan, to the fire !!!!! As I have posted many times, the man can’t play defense very well, he can skate, and get the puck out of his zone, but he can’t defend worth a squat !!!!!!!!!!!

  • Buchnevich certainly has skills, and also that all important but rare vision that very good and elite players have. He has a lot of potential. But, although he has played well when he’s played, we still don’t know how good he will eventually be.

    He is an important part of the team, no doubt. But, I think that the same can be said of Zibanejad who has the potential to be a great two way player. It can also be said of JT and Hayes. I’d almost throw Vesey in the too because of his potential. So, it is probably an overstatement to call Pavel the most important forward. But, he certainly is important to the future of the Rangers.

    • I forgot to list Krieder. Basically Buchnevich, Zibanejad, Miller, Hayes, Krieder and I will add Vesey, and add Skjei too, these young players are to my mind all keepers. I have a lot of faith in Gorton’s ability to build a team around a solid group of young players. I’d like to see him add a couple of young defensemen, but do it the right way, without trading their best assets and first round picks. Won’t be easy, but I think Gorton can get it done given the time.

  • It’s hard sometimes to compare different players that have different skill-sets and styles. Kreider is a skilled strong skater and bullish, but I wouldn’t call him highly skilled in other areas like stick handling and passing.
    Miller is a skilled speedster, good checker, good shot, but not a finesse player.
    Hayes is skilled in his handling the puck and opening up scoring chances, but may lack in other areas like finishing a play.
    Bush seems to be highly skilled in a variety of areas pertaining to finesse, play making, good hands, accurate shot and excellent hockey sense.
    Each player has his own skill-set, but certain players seem to excel with a God given ability that causes them to standout. Though he is young and unproven in the NHL, the flashes of talent,potential, and ability already can be seen. The kid has great potential to mature and become an excellent player.
    I can see him becoming a player to build around in the future. For you old timers, maybe a Jean Ratelle type of player.

  • Buchnevich only played 17 games and was injured for about two three months during these 17 games, I am not ready to give him the key of the Rangers yet, can we at least see what he can do in one FULL season first?

    Don’t be so quick to get rid of Nash, Nash is a very good player for the Rangers offensively and defensively, he plays hard and he kills penalties. Is it possible to resign him with a reasonable rate after maybe Gorton can do some magic and get rid of one or two those unmovable contacts?

    • Nash’s likelihood of playing in NHL after next season depends on how much money he wants to make and how long he’s expecting to sign for.

      3 years at 5 million, 4 years at 4 million, 5 years at 5 million ? Who knows. Next June, after his deal expires and he’ll be due an extension he will have just turned 34. Personally, I’d not be interested in signing him for any more than 3 years. Unclear as to what the cap landscape will be then, I’d think we could expect him to play those 3 years as a 50, 50, 40 point player. This is probably not at all realistic, but I’d look to go no higher than 3 years at around 3.5 mil. If we have much of a cap crunch, I am very open to the idea of Rick signing elsewhere.

      • Agree with the list but personally I Love Veseys game…size and skill and scoring touch and instincts…like Buch will put on weight and be a star in 2 or 3 years…..

        Untouchable- Buchevnich / Kreider/ ‘Vesey’
        Less Touchable- Zibanejad / Hayes / Miller
        Touchable – Everyone else

        Above are our top 6 forwards for the next ten years…

        Now is the time to trade stepan before his No TRADE kicks in!!!!

  • Been waiting for his arrival since i started following the team/sport in 2014. Been awesome to see him on ice, and hope he develops into the player he can be. We missed out on Tarasenko, but whos to say this guy cant be just as special.

  • I mostly agree with you Chris. I love Buch’s game and am very excited about his upside.

    As for Kreider, you describe him as “the raging bull of a power forward”, but I would add to that “when he chooses to be”. He still has a nasty habit of disappearing far too often for my tastes. What I will say is, he’s the Rangers most important player other than Hank. As Kreider goes, so goes the Rangers. He’s had an impressive step forward season thus far, but I want to see more.

    When you say “commit” to young talent, I’m not so sure I understand what you mean. The Rangers have lots of promising young talent, but they also have veteran talents like Stepan, Nash and Zuc. And they are a contending team at the moment. What AV needs to commit to is simple–the best lineup that wins games and gets you ready for hopefully a deep playoff run. I’m sure that involves Buch and Kreider, but with a deep stable of forwards to choose from, performance on the ice can and must dictate who plays top line minutes.

    Good problem to have.

    • I have reservations about Shattenkirk as well. Yes he would help fill a void in the near term. Long term, the Rangers would be saddled with yet another huge salary which acts like a boat anchor to the teams success.

    • Yep. Through the 2019-20 season. I’m surprised they’d do it now, but this should put to rest the notion that a) players don’t like or respond to the coach and b) Gorton’s not a fan.

      I’m neither for or against the move. I would have waited until after the season but when you have a future HOF coach, then I guess you have to lock him up long term. 🙂

      I think some of our BSB brothers are going to have nightmares tonight! 🙂

  • Staal and Fast back in tomorrow. Raanta back on the roster. Sounds like Lindberg will be in street clothes. Probably Clendening sits too but not announced yet.

    We are a Kevin Hayes activation away from finally being healthy!

      • According to the Ranger announcers, he (Fast) is a superstar. Defensively he is alright, but not irreplaceable. Package him in a deal and send Pirri down or trade him to, they are both over-rated and can’t put the puck in the ocean!

    • I’d rather that Lindbergh center the 4th line and either Fast or Pirri sit.

      I hope that now that Clendo played a few games that as the second half progresses they might use him to give Staal, Klein and Girardi an occasional off day. It makes sense to me. But, what the hell do I know!

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