Understanding both sides of the Glass/Buchnevich debate

pavel buchnevich

With the playoffs around the corner, much of the focus for the Rangers is on Alain Vigneault’s lineup choices. Much of the lineup is set. We know 11 of the 12 forwards. We know all six defensemen. But it’s that 12th forward that is drawing a lot of attention, and it’s an emotional topic for a lot of people.

Tanner Glass is the old-school, gritty hockey player that “stands up for teammates and deters others.” While we’ve seen others on the roster (Kreider, Vesey, Smith) step up for others, the focus is always on Glass because he represents a dying breed of hockey players. What he represents is the “blue collar” player. The one who throws his body around and gets in on the forecheck.

On the other side of the coin is Pavel Buchnevich. Buch is the prized rookie with seemingly unlimited skill. His production in the KHL and in his rookie season puts him on par with Evgeny Kuznetsov. That’s one helluva comparison and career trajectory. Now while it’s unlikely he gets to that level –he doesn’t get to play with Alex Ovechkin on a nightly basis– he can still come in under that and be a great player for the Rangers.

The school of thought here seems to have the fanbase divided into two camps. The first camp is to play Glass. The Rangers got physically abused by the Habs in the last matchup, and that is fresh in everyone’s minds. Those who prefer the old school style of hockey think that Glass is a necessary cog for the Rangers. He will hit people, forecheck, and go to the net. And yes, all of this is true. Plus, by most accounts, he’s a good locker room guy.

The second camp is the play Buchnevich camp. The NHL has moved to a speed and skill game, and the most successful teams this year (and last year’s Cup champion) were loaded with speed and skill. Buchnevich offers an immense amount of skill on the fourth line, something that provides matchup nightmares for the opposition. This is especially true of Montreal, a team that lacks depth. Plus, for the long-term future of the club, Buch’s development is critical.

There are obvious drawbacks to both camps as well. Glass, while offering that physical presence, doesn’t do much else. He’s not good with the puck and has minimal skill. He’s also not a good penalty killer and doesn’t play on the powerplay. Buchnevich is still a rookie and prone to mental mistakes. The kid hasn’t even been able to legally buy a beer in the States for a year yet. In the playoffs, every mistake can wind up in the back of your net.

If you’ve been reading this blog, then you know where I sit on this discussion. I think playing Buchnevich has far more value, both short term and long term, than playing Glass. I would certainly be able to lean more towards Glass if he contributed more than just a physical presence. In today’s NHL, a player needs to be more than one-dimensional. Even the best scorers can fake it in their own end.

The reality of the situation is that we are going to see both play this series. If Buchnevich gets Game One, and the Rangers get outplayed physically, we will see Glass. If Glass plays Game One and the Rangers can’t get anything going offensively, we will see Buchnevich. This roster decision, like life, lives in the grey area.

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  • I guess the sad truth is that neither of the 2 will help the Rangers getting farer is the 2nd round. I would play both and would let Puempel sit.

  • If Glass gets to play at all, it will be the first game of the series, just as a show of force, after the embarrassing display the last time we played the Canadians. Buch will play more for sure, he has the skill set that Glass just lacks!!!!!

  • I think we have to play Glass at least the first game to show we will use him so that hopefully the habs dont get too comfortable. I hope buch gets stronger this summer because he needs it for sure. I think he’ll be good eventually. They all develop at different paces

  • Kreider Stepan Zuccarello
    Nash Zibanejad Buchnevich
    Grabner Hayes Miller
    Vesey Lindberg Fast

    Those are our top 12. Maybe Buchnevich would be a no brainer, if he ever got a chance to just play and build chemistry with a line. He’s better than Vesey, let alone Tanner Glass

  • I would not play glass in the first game or ever. If we lose the game one to nothing it is because we went there without all our offense. When we give it our all and fail, at least we play all our best players, and not all the blame goes to the coach . If we give it our all and fail, and we did not put our best players, we failed because of the coach.

  • It appears that by playing Glass, AV is admitting that there is a need for an ‘enforcer’……Interesting……
    My only problem with playing glass is that if we needed an ‘ enforcer’ we would have been way better off from a talent standpoint to have kept McIlrath as a seventh defenseman since there really was NO DROPOFF between McIlrath and girardi or klein or holden of kampher or clrendening….and he certainly was a capable defenseman more so than glass being a capable forward…..

    Personally if we really need a glass in the lineup, I would move miller or nash to center and sit Stepan , not buchnevich……buch is a threat to score, goes into corners and is physical…….

    • You’re going to sit the 3rd leading scorer on this team in order to play Buch. The guy who “is a threat to score” yet has 2 goals and a whopping 6 points since the start of 2017?

      You’re a genius.

      • Spozo, Rich S must be smoking some good stuff , maybe we can give it the players before each game and watch them fly with the pigs that can’t fly . WOW LGR

    • Rich, I was with you as far as your first paragraph. But I wouldn’t sit Step for Buch. Buch still must develop and adjust to the NA game.

    • Rich, you are going WAY off the rails again.

      McIlrath couldn’t crack the lineups of two non-playoff teams this year. Detroit is done. If they were serious about the kid, wouldn’t they call him up now and let him play in the NHL to see what they’ve got there?

      You are seeing him through your mind’s eye and not the way there different NHL coaches, three different GMs, and all 30 NHL clubs see him. The idea that a marginal minor leaguer would be making a difference is going WAY off the deep end.

      But even further off the deep end…..bench Stepan???? Now???? You do realize that Stepan’s line has been the Rangers BEST line down the stretch. You also must realize that Miller has been mediocre at best for the last 25 games or so. There is no coach anywhere that would do what you are suggesting.

      This summer and next season? Clean slate for any evaluations on McIlrath, Stepan and Miller. But not now.

  • I think its more about the hustle that AV is showing the guys in Glass then the ‘enforcer’ effect.

    Buch looks like he is half asleep most of the time, he barely shows the hustle that Glass and others in the league show.

    He may have had numbers on par with Kuznetsov, but at his current heart rate, which seems at times to be that of a fat guy laying down, he will never get to the level his comrade is reaching even if he is playing with the Gr8 8.

    I think Buch is shot from all the new things happening in his life and it is going to take him time to get it all together… JT, CK, KH have all seen their rookie and sophomore years go past and they improved nicely under AV. I think Buch will get into his stride… but Glass gets into the forecheck as hard as any other player we have on the ice right now… its an important part of the game… honestly what options does AV have to get a body crashing behind the goal line on the forecheck past Glass?

  • Sit Buchnevich for Glass; playing a guy that didn’t make the team out of camp for good reasons, over a player that did make the team out of camp for good reasons is a rhetorical question, no?

    • Glass all day long. Bush needs to put on 15lbs of muscle to be ready for the playoff grind.. Tanner Glass brings experience and toughness needed for the playoff run.

      • Bobby-

        Sorry I didnt have a chance to respond to your post the other day. You and Rich (I think it was Rich) made a very compelling argument about Montreal’s response to the Flyers in Game 1 of the 1976 SCF.

        I only have a vague memory of that season. I was so emotionally distraught after the Rangers had released Eddie and then traded away Park and Ratelle! That plus the fact that the Rangers were horrible and unwatchable that I pretty much tuned out hockey that year. And by the time the SC Playoff came along, starved for some sports hope, I was all in on the early stages of the very enjoyable 1976 future AL Champion Yankees! 🙂

        So, i went back and did some digging, and I found this article.

        I only had time for a cursory read, but my impression–

        1) The big takeaway on what happened in that series is the fact that the Flyers were severely compromised due to injury. No Bernie Parent, who, in the case of the Rangers two years earlier, was THE big reason why the Flyers won that series. No Rick MacLeish. And earlier in the season, they had traded away Ed Van Impe. Those were HUGE losses.

        2) There is no specific reference that I saw to the fight you mentioned involving Robinson and Schultz, which you cited as a turning point moment.

        3) To be fair to your point, there’s no question that the Habs were determined to match the Flyers physicality in that doubt. And Robinson was a part of that.

        4) But the flip side to this is, to address your point about adding a Fotiu-type player, it doesnt appear that Bowman did that at all. They doubled down on skill. That was the beginning of the last great Montreal dynasty. And they ruled the hockey world for four years because of their elite skill, not because of their physicality. Not saying they couldn’t play physical, but it was their elite, future HOF talent that made the difference.

        5) Also, Montreal had two years to figure out how to beat the Bullies. No team had an answer for it. Maybe if the Rangers of 1974 had played the Flyers in 1976, by then they would have figured it out. And again, the Rangers PP in 1974 was totally shutdown by Parent. If Parent had been hurt in 1974, I have no doubt the Rangers win that series easily, Rolfe vs Schultz not withstanding.

        Look, there is no doubt that what you and Rich have said is true–physicality matters. I don’t disagree with that. But I think the level of importance you place on it is WAY, WAY over blown, especially in this day and age. The Broad Street Bullies would have no chance to succeed in this day and age. None. Nick Fotiu would barely be an AHL player today, if that. Goons are going the way of the dinosaur. There was great skill level in the game then and now, but the speed in today’s game is incredible. Whenever I look at old game films from that era, games were played in slow-motion compared to the way it’s played today.

        So do you need to play physical today to win in modern NHL hockey, absolutely. Do you need an “enforcer” to send “messages”, absolutely not.

        Would Nick Fotiu have made a difference in 1972, 1974 or if he had played more in 1979? Highly doubt it. We lost in 1972 because they had Orr and we didn’t (and Ratelle was injured). We lost in 1974 because our PP couldn’t cash in on a future HOF goalie. And we lost to a far, far better dynastic team in 1979 because they were loaded with HOFers, and JD, who had been on a magical run, hurt his knee in Game One. Magic gone. Rangers done.

        Good debate my friend!

        • Eddie – small potatoes, but we got waxed by the Reds in 1976. It still hurts! 1977 & 1978 were championship years.

          • We did, but I LOVED that season. I was there when Chambliss hit the pennant winning homer. I ran on the field and I still have the stadium dirt in a hefty bag, along with the dirt from the next year after the Reggie 3-HR game! 🙂

          • Nice! I still can’t get Jim Mason’s WS plate appearances out of my head!

      • Bobby-

        I just responded with an article attachment that is awaiting moderation. You should get to see it soon.

        Great debate my friend!

  • As I’ve said before, in an ideal world, I would play Buch over Glass. No question. In the modern NHL, skill trumps size.

    However, this is not an ideal world for the Rangers at the moment. The fact is, Buch just hasn’t been very good for most of the season since he came back from his back injury. He may not be physically or even mentally up to this right now. I think he is having a lot of difficulty adjusting to the NHL game, which is understandable. To me, like Vesey, he’s probably a project that’s another year away yet.

    To quote Herb Brooks (at least the movie version of Herb Brooks), “I’m not looking for the best players, I’m looking for the right ones”. That MUST be AV’s only consideration. Growing and giving Buch “experience” is irrelevant at the moment. What Glass lacks in raw talent he more than makes up for in hockey smarts and all-out effort. There are intangibles he brings to the table that have value, Montreal does play a physical game now and Glass MAY be able to function well given the right line matchups. And, he has NHL playoff experience that Buch does not have. Indeed, the Rangers advanced deep into the playoffs beating the likes of Pit and Was two years ago with Glass in the lineup.

    I have no problem at all if Glass plays over Buch. To me, it’s largely irrelevant anyway. If the Rangers best players play up to their capabilities, they have a great chance to beat Montreal–with or without Glass. If they keep playing just average hockey, it won’t matter anyway. The discussion of who is the 12F is just a bunch of noise to me.

    Another point to consider. Are we sure the choice is simply Glass vs Buch? Vesey also looks like he is not ready to be a playoff contributor. I could see the choice coming down to Vesey, Buch and Glass. One loses the game of musical chairs.

    • Eddie please go back to the Carey Price / Sammy Vetanen blog. I look forward to your reply. The topic from me was on playoff toughness intimidation. 1976 Canadiens vs Flyers cup finals. Please respond.

    • Buchnevich, and other Rangers never had the skilled teammate that had their back, except for Krider, who hasn’t used his strength and size as much as much as I’d like. I’m not sure what caused Buchnevich’s back injury, though it would not surprise me he was out muscled in some fashion. With all do respect to his heart, Glass does not deter opponents’ aggression, he reacts to it.

    • Here is why I would SIT Stepan for the playoffs…

      17 goals in 85 playoff games, despite leading the team in minutes played
      11 even strength goals in 85 playoff games despite leading in pp minutes played
      a minus -5 in 85 playoff games

      All this despite playing with the top wings each year and getting the most minutes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Despite this, if you watch the games HE STINKS….. I will take my chances with a young , more skilled, faster , way more potential Buch!!!!!

      • You would be fired immediately after Game 1, and Sather would go back behind the bench. NO NHL coach would do that. We can debate whether Stepan should be around after this summer. More than reasonable discussion and I’m more than open to that. But bench him now? That’s crazy talk.

      • Stepan doesn’t score enough goals for your liking. So let’s sit him in favor of someone who has never played a playoff game and who scores at a lesser pace.

        You’re a joke

        • I am re posting this for you’ sBozo’—maybe this time you can respond to the facts of Stepans playoff history, and if you are capable have an intelligent response BASED on facts!
          Here is why I would SIT Stepan for the playoffs…

          17 goals in 85 playoff games, despite leading the team in minutes played
          11 even strength goals in 85 playoff games despite leading in pp minutes played
          a minus -5 in 85 playoff games

          All this despite playing with the top wings each year and getting the most minutes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • Eddie has some interesting stats below this.

            PS your favorite player is Dylan Mcilrath. Excuse me if I’m skeptical of your player evaluation.

          • Spozo,
            Respectfully I must disagree again , here are the facts-time on ice under tortorella is actually slightly more than under Vinganult

            2011—-20.30 min tortorella
            2012—-19.07 min
            2013—-22.30 min

            2014—-19.47 min Vinauglt
            2015—-19.31 min
            2016—-17.11 min
            Again, in 6 years of playoffs, 11 even strength goals in 85 games…..I will take my chances with Buch…..

      • Your stats are distorted. Stepan was not much of a factor in his younger days under Torts. With his significantly enhanced role under AV, he has 12-17-39 in 45 playoff games, which is far better than his regular season output. (And I will point out that in 2014, he was compromised in the final few games of the ECF and the whole SCF because of the jaw injury). He, along with Kreider, have been the Rangers best offensive post season weapons.

        That’s the guy you want to bench?

        • 3E, Actually the stats show that stepan averaged more playing time with tortorella as coach
          2011—-20.30 min tortorella
          2012—-19.07 min
          2013—-22.30 min

          2014—-19.47 min Vinauglt
          2015—-19.31 min
          2016—-17.11 min
          In his 6 playoff seasons and 85 games I can only remember 1 big goal he scored for us against the bruins…..IMHO he is a nice kid, but a non-factor in the playoffs — regular season as well. Certainly not a difference maker……

          • I wasn’t referring to minutes played. Under Torts, he was not a significant playoff performer. Under AV, he has been. Not saying that has anything to do with Torts per se, just that by the time AV came on board, Stepan had matured as a player.

            So now we are talking about BIG goals? Umm, I think you are forgetting about Game 7 OT two years ago vs the Caps. Goals don’t come much bigger than that.

            I agree, he is not a difference maker player. But the Rangers don’t really have any other than Hank. Kreider could be. Nash could be. There are no elite forwards on this team. That’s the reason we haven’t been able to finish the deal.

            But Step has been an extremely effective playoff point producer under AV. To bench him on the POSSIBILITY that an underwhelming rookie could do better? Sorry, no way.

            BTW, how are your “untouchables” Miller and Hayes doing? I keep thinking they’ve been healthy scratches for all the times I’ve heard their names called in the last few weeks. Miller is reverting back to “bad Miller”, as Brooksie now calls him. Proving as I’ve said about both of them. They are good (sometimes very good) players that are not difference makers at the moment. Here’s a golden opportunity with guys out to prove you can take over a game. What have we gotten from those guys when the baton is passed to them? Nothing. Very alarming. And you want to elevate Miller to the 1C NOW????

            Maybe Step should be traded before his NMC kicks in–that is reasonable. But the guys they should seriously consider dealing are one of Miller or Hayes (maybe Kreider) while it’s still possible to get a big return. Our so-called untouchable stars are just not that good, sorry to say.

          • When I ‘evaluate’ players i look at several things–
            1. Production and performance
            2. speed and talent
            3. upside
            4. aggressive and physical makeup

            Miller in his first 2 years has 6 more goals than stepan….who in fact has only scored over 20 goals twice in 7 seasons…….
            Miller has 22 in each of his first two seasons[ again not playing the amount of minutes or pp minutes stepan does..
            I would bet that in the next 5 years miller will score over 25 most of them….maybe 30+
            Hayes is a closer comparison to stepan, having scored 17, 14 goals in his first two seasons….again in much less minutes than stepan..
            He reminds me of a younger joe thornton who the bruins foolishly gave up on way too early in his career…
            Personally , i think a player needs 3 or 4 years to show what he can do…
            In 4 or 5 years if miller and hayes have not developed into 25+ goals and 60+ point seasons then i would consider trading them…not yet…
            I cant argue trade of tony amonte, we won a cup….but look at rick middleton trade ……
            Yup, I did forget about the goal against the caps…..But 2 big goals in 85 games is not getting it done.

          • And all that is totally reasonable…..except for two things.

            1) Miller and/or Hayes MAY be top tier players down the road….but they are not at that level now. Stepan is the far more reliable player today. Long range upside and raw talent upside? No doubt it would be your Untouchables.

            So if you are acknowledging that Miller/Hayes are still a few years away from hitting their peak, then how can you justify upgrading either of them and sit a proven veteran playoff performer at this time–especially considering how poorly both Miller and especially Hayes have played for the past 25 games?

            2) If you wait 4-5 years to trade Miller and/or Hayes, and they aren’t anything more than they are now, you wont get much for them. In Miller’s case, rumors were strong that teams were very interested in him. Is someone willing to overpay? If so, I’m listening.

            You mention the Middleton trade, but that was for a washed up veteran. I’m not advocating for that. The Amonte trade was one of those “one or two pieces away” deals you do when you are close. Better example was Alexei Kovalev. He was supposed to be the Russian Gretzky. His skill set was off the chart, and no doubt, he was a key contributor in 1994–as a important component piece player on a star studded team. But as those players left or aged, and more was expected out of Kovie, he was unable or unwilling to raise his game.

            There were rumors that the Rangers were in talks with the Whalers to acquire the older but in his prime Brendan Shanahan. The Rangers, having traded so many young stars to win the Cup, passed on that. It was a huge mistake, and once they realized that Kovalev was an overgrown problem child that wasn’t ever going to get it, they had to settle for a lesser return.

            Miller and Hayes worry me. Both have had work ethic issues to various degrees–in short, maturity issues just like Kovalev. Do they TRULY want to become great players? Or is this inconsistency what we should expect to see for the foreseeable future? If the latter, should we look to deal while their values is at their highest?

            The return would have to be significant, no doubt.

          • 3E,
            I admit I am an optimist…I see kredier, miller, buch and vesey as ‘power forward’ types contributing for the next ten years….
            hayes, zib and grabner to a lesser extent but still capable of being game changers…..
            excited , because i have never seen a better group [ potentially] of young rangers forwards in almost 50 years of watching…..
            we lack a taveras, crosby, kopitar type star center , but overall love this talent….

          • Again, I agree with every word you just said, because those words speak to the future more so than the present. But in the here and now, well, all we have is hope and potential with those guys. They haven’t arrived yet.

            I’m more of a skeptic when it comes to young “untouchables”. Maybe it was my years covering the team in the early 80s. I remember chatting with veterans like Hedberg and Espo telling me about the young “stud” forwards who would be Rangers stars for years to come–Murdoch, Maloney, Duguay and Sulliman…and then a couple of years later, add Pavelich to that. The bright young future star forwards that would make us perennial contenders for years to come.

            Turned out they were not great players, but merely good players who had flashes of greatness, while the Islanders had great players like Bossy and Trottier, along with real good players like Gillies, Bourne and Nystrom.

            Look at TB. They lose Stamkos and then Kucherov, a 23 year old star, accepts the challenge and puts the team on his back and has a spectacular year. Not good enough for a playoff spot this year, but you see my point. Kucherov became a great young star. Tarasenko as well. None of our guys are in that category.

            Star power is essential to success. I just don’t see any of the guys you mentioned ever getting to that level.

            Good but not great players yield good but not great results. So, no, I’m not nearly as high on any of these guys as you are.

            But hey, who’s to say one or more won’t catch fire starting next week? That can certainly happen and if it does, then we have a chance.

          • But this is what I don’t get about you. I won’t even argue about whether Stepan is a good player or not. You’ve clearly made up your mind and so have I. But you’re going to sit him because he isn’t a difference maker. Why does that mean Buch will perform better? What about his 2 goals and 6 total points in the last 3 months shows you that the Rangers would be a better team with Stepan in the press box and Buch playing?

            Regardless of whatever stat you pull out about time on ice there is the fact that in the last 3 seasons, Stepan has 12 playoff goals and 29 points.

          • Exactly. And we’ve seen no evidence whatsoever that Buch can be a significant factor at this point. Zero. None. Heck, there’s little evidence to suggest that Miller and Hayes can be relied on come playoff time. They just aren’t that caliber of player–yet.

            And why the focus on TOI I have no idea. That’s not relevant to the discussion.

  • Glad to see a bit of perspective here.

    If it’s between Buch on the fourth line and Glass, I tend to think it’s a pretty marginal call. The physical part of the game and especially the playoff game is not something to sneeze at. If this wasn’t obvious, and it apparently is not to some, I’m not talking about fighting. Also, I didn’t expect to say this, but the year in the AHL looks like it has done Glass some good. That line has not looked bad.

    Buch is obviously a big part of our future but I’m not getting wound up if he doesn’t play all the time right now.

  • And I thought I was crazy!

    Anyhow, Buch might be good in the future, the jury is still way, way out on that. But, he certainly hasn’t been very good the last 20 games. He cannot retrieve a puck, cannot get it out of the zone along the boards and has stopped shooting. Other than that, he’s fine.

    Glass on the other hand is useless unless AV goes three lines and shortens the bench.

    McIlraith has played his last NHL game, BTW.

    Keith Yandle, whose name NEVER GETS MENTIONED anymore is teeing it up starting Monday at nearly 7 million a year. Thank God we don’t have him for another 6 years.

    • “Keith Yandle, whose name NEVER GETS MENTIONED anymore is teeing it up starting Monday at nearly 7 million a year. Thank God we don’t have him for another 6 years.”

      Yeah that didn’t sound like a good idea from what I saw.

  • Buch is a young rookie. Loaded with potential. One dimensional! Glass is Physical-one dimensional. It doesn’t matter but why would you place a soft inexperienced rookie in the first game in Montreal. He has not earned a thing. When he was taken out with a knee he didn’t do anything. Some of these young guys need to stand up for themselves. Vesey has, Miller has. Hes not ready for prime time let alone the first game in the playoffs.

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