On Pavel Buchnevich and his importance to the Rangers

There are few players on the Rangers that divide the fan base almost in half. Dan Girardi was one for a while until his final year in New York. Kevin Shattenkirk appears to be one. Pavel Buchnevich is another.

Buchnevich, before the Rangers started the rebuild, was perhaps unfairly hyped by a lot of folks, myself included. With KHL numbers comparable to Evgeny Kuznetzov and Vlad Tarasenko, Buchnevich was viewed as a great prospect that, while not on the same level as those two, could be a top-line winger for the Rangers.

Buchnevich has bounced around the lineup in his first two full seasons, finally sticking in a top-six/top-nine role under David Quinn. Two seasons ago Buch put up 43 points, and last season he put up 21 goals. Last season especially was a “what if he were healthy” scenario, as Buchnevich put up those 21 goals (17 assists too) in just 64 games. That is an 82-game pace of 27-22-49. Do you look at him differently if he didn’t miss 18 games?

For some reason, Buchnevich is always compared unfavorably to Chris Kreider. I find this to be interesting, because both of them have had near identical starts to their careers. Not just in what HSM has provided above, but also in raw scoring and play type. If you recall, the major complaints about Kreider were that he was a “perimeter player” and he “didn’t use his size.” Now Kreider is the best net-front presence the Rangers have. Funny how time and development works, isn’t it?

However for Buchnevich, it looks like the “issue” goes beyond anything tangible on the ice. Sure, he’s not perfect, but he’s no generational talent either. He’s a middle-six forward, and a pretty solid one at that. If you knew nothing else about him, you’d be happy with his production. But there’s a bias towards “lazy Russians” and a preference for North American players. It’s the Don Cherry effect, and I see it in the comments here regularly. If Buchnevich were Canadian or American, he’d be a skilled middle-six winger. But this bias has existed for quite some time, and doesn’t just apply to Buch either.

I find it funny, though, that people seem to think he is expendable given the recent roster events – adding Artemi Panarin, Kaapo Kakko, and Vitali Kravtsov. However no team goes far without scoring depth. Remember when the Rangers made their run to the Cup Final? Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello were two-thirds of the third line. I cannot stress this enough. Depth matters, and the Rangers will need more than Panarin, Kakko, and Kravtsov to provide scoring.

So when it comes to Buchnevich, the Rangers need the secondary scoring, especially while Kakko, Kravtsov, and other prospects continue to grow. Buchnevich’s 20 goals and 40 points are not easily replaced, especially at his RFA price of around $3 million.

Biased or not, Buchnevich has an important role with the club. He’s not as untouchable as the hype may have made him, but for $3 million he will provide 20 goals and 40 points. This is doubly true if the Rangers decide to part ways with Chris Kreider. Roster depth matters. As does giving the kids a cushion to grow and develop. Buchnevich provides both, and should continue his own growth as well, something the Rangers will need if they intend on being truly competitive in the years to come.

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  • Buch is a take it or leave em type of player. Not sure he makes anyone around him any better. Seems skilled and motivated at times, but other times he also disappears (ala Krieder). For $3M, he is definitely worth the money. I think with Panarin, this could be his big breakout year. Need to sign him to a 2 year bridge deal.

  • Buchnevich was stuck as a perimeter player until last season because he was physically unable to go to the net because he was too thin.

    Last year he had put enough weight on but didn’t go to the net enough until DQ put a boot in his zhopa and then he started scoring consistently.

    A year on, with more time to fill out, he should go at a 30 goal pace.

  • Maybe Panarin will help him turn his frown upside down.

    I liked when Krieder, Chytl and Buch played on a line together. Hes a good secondary piece. I hope Lemieux becomes one as well.

    • obviously we have no idea what kravtsov looks like at the NHL level yet , but to me his skill set (not level of) is very close to kravtsov .. IMHO in two years will be made redundant.

      My biggest gripe about buch game is lack of shots (119 ly) and that general passing mentality. Idc where you are from you cannot have a team of All playmakers. Eventhough it seems that this fan base gravitatates to that ilk of player.

      Your argument about depth is valid, however when you invest 81 million in a player you better not have too many ryan gropps.

      • Mr. Smith – At least you prefaced your post with the caveat that you have no idea what Kratsov looks like at the NHL level. Some others chose to just go with it straight up.

        No offense – I just think declaring Kravtsov as redundant to Buch or vice versa is a little premature since not one of us has seen Kravtsov on NHL ice, nor have we seen Buch utilized with some high-power European talent more suited to his game.

        I believe Buch’s game is going to be very complimentary to both Kravtsov and Panarin. With the talent influx and another year with DQ, I truly believe Buch will be the most improved Ranger this year.

  • Dave mentioned the hype in paragraph 2…….Buch has been hyped like crazy by some of the fanbase. He is a 3rd round pick. I would love for him to breakout….this should be a make or break year for him

  • Mostly agree here. I think what I like most about Buch is how well he played in the last 20 or so games after some Quinn tough love. I realize it’s a small sample size, but he showed consistency like he has not shown before. With Panarin in the mix and Kravtsov I can see that helping him elevate his game. And on the salary cap hit, that is huge, especially now that we have cap concerns. The ELC years and the RFA years have great value. I am against moving him at this point, especially as a cap dump. There’s too much upside and he’s hitting his prime years.

  • Buch will be the biggest recipient of the influx of Russian/Euro talent coming in this year.

    IMO he has looked a bit uncomfortable in his surroundings. That should change with the new Ruskie Rangers coming in and the departure of Vesey, who seemed to be giving Butch the cold shoulder.

    This WILL be a breakout year for Buch, that is unless Gorts goes out and signs McLeod and pairs them on the 4th line, again…

    • there will be more competition for prime minutes. Has his opportunity here passed ? (That’s rhetorical)

  • Buch, pre-Quinn: Peripheral player, very good pts/60 5 on 5.

    Buch, with Quinn: Plays around the blue paint, pts/60 beast.

    50-60 pts are possible this year, assuming that he is here, of course. And he should be.

  • Move Buch before his arbitration date. Cut our losses, save the Cap space. We have 2 possible minimum cost replacements for Buch in the way of Kakko and Krafsov. Package Buch with Smith and make a deal.

  • There is a reason Buch was available until the 3rd round, beyond just the Russian sign-ability issue. Appreciate the scoring and occasional flashes of brilliance he brings to the team. And if he gets pushed down to the third line, perfect. It means he was eclipsed by superior talent and he’s a borderline top 6 forward on a Cup contending team.

    • The reason was a 3rd round pick was because he was 25+lbs under the threshold for players his height to be effective. Players that skinny have a tough time putting on weight.

  • Buch is a middle 6 forward with spurts of really good play. At ~$3.5M if he could work some magic on the 3rd line, that is where he has the most value. He may work well on the 2nd line as well, but I feel he needs a true centerman to work his magic. On a team that is Cap strapped, someone has to go. What if the choice was Krieder or Buch? Who goes then?

  • I believe Buchnevich is about to break out in a big way. He is stronger and more assertive than he was previously. Combined with his considerable skill I believe he will be quite a good player for the Rangers He is still only 24. He prime playing years are going to happen right about now.

  • Buch is primed for a big year after DQ got to him last year. Don’t follow some counter arguments. He is like Kratsov so redundant? Is it bad to have two really good players who are similar? Don’t think so. Pass first (like Zuc); perhaps but he did score in a third of his games last year. So if he stays healthy with no progression at all in his game he will score more than 25 goals with limited power play time; quite good. With minimal growth in his game Buch would be a solid 2nd line winger about to enter his prime – pretty valuable commodity. Also a potential quality player who may be willing to give home town discount given Russian orientation Rangers are trending towards. I’m expecting a 25 goal 50 point year from Buch this upcoming season; probably good enough for top. I think Buch will likely be the 3rd highest point getter on the Rangers this season, as he was last season.

    • Orland

      I don’t see any home team discount from this guy at all. He has embraced capitalism in a big way, don’t forget he is going the arbitration route isn’t he!!!!!!! The rest of you post is spot on though……….

      • I don’t think selecting arbitration should be held against any hockey player – under the current system it’s almost silly to do otherwise. My sense is that Buch had a hard time adjusting to the NHL in general and the Rangers in particular, especially since AV gave him such a hard time with his BS passive aggressive cold shoulder treatment like of so many young players had to endure. If DQ develops a relationship with him, which seems to be happening already, and Buch becomes even more comfortable with all the Russians on the team and having Russian culture prevalent in the NY area I just don’t see him moving from here for a few extra bucks.

        • Orland

          I’m not criticizing him for the arbitration, my point was that he went there, giving me the impression he won’t give any discount. Watching teammates get such large contracts, he probably figures why not me. Hence the comment about capitalism!!!!!!

      • I love you Valter but that’s just silly. Arbitration is the only leverage a player who has put the time in has, unless you think holding out through training camp and beyond is better. Besides, by electing arbitration the player nullifies the possibility of an offer sheet and allows us a 2nd buyout window — in other words he did us a favor. This has zero to do with embracing capitalism in a big way, it’s perfectly normal … not that players in Russia embrace anything other than capitalism in any event.

        • Agree. Be realistic Walter. I’m sure Buch has an agent who informed Buch that they have to file for arbitration or they lose all leverage and will get screwed. It’s not any more complicated than that.

          • I also would not be shocked if management actually asked him to file. He was the only RFA with arbitration rights (before Trouba) and they must know they need that 2nd buyout window.

  • I suspect that the mood we all saw in Buch was due to many factors. First the language, second the culture differences, third he really had no one else to talk to other than Kreider until Goergiev came along. I can see him benefit very much with the Breadman coming, along with Kratsov, and possible Rykov. He will have some friends to run with, and with it comes some pear pressure to perform. He wants a two year deal, sign him up, and see what he can do. If he proves to be a big time player, then we pay for his services, if not we trade. No need to lose sleep over the guy, he will improve now that he is getting some experience, and other Russian players to play with!!!!!!!!!!!

  • I believe in Buch, period end of story.

    We shouldn’t be in the business of trading any of the younger players just yet and whether he plays the whole season in a Top 6 role/1st unit PP or whether our depth somehow pushes him down to the 3rd line/2nd PP unit every once in a while you need players like Buch for high quality depth.

  • i like buch, i think he had a ruff time adjusting. He is young and has skill. with more talent around him and if he stays healthy
    he could have a breakout year.

  • I’m not trying to stir the pot, but I read this today, and found it interesting. This is a part of an article from Brett Cyrgalis of the Post, that says the Rangers have Buch, and Names on the trading block……..

    “I wonder if Jesse Puljujarvi might be part of the trade package for a Buchnevich, a Bennett, or some other player that a capped out team simply has to move in order to meet its cap commitments to retain more prized players.”

      • Recently, Brett Crygalis suggested that the New York Rangers may have RFA, Pavel Buchnevich on the trading block. This prompted David Staples of the Edmonton Journal to write that the Oilers should go after him in a trade.

        • I know, that isn’t what you wrote though. I wasn’t trying to be a dick about it, but you said:

          “This is a part of an article from Brett Cyrgalis of the Post, that says the Rangers have Buch, and Names on the trading block……..

          “I wonder if Jesse Puljujarvi might be part of the trade package for a Buchnevich …”

          The implication is that Brett wrote it. 🙂

        • I know, that isn’t what you wrote though. I wasn’t trying to be a jerk about it, but you said:

          “This is a part of an article from Brett Cyrgalis of the Post, that says the Rangers have Buch, and Names on the trading block……..

          “I wonder if Jesse Puljujarvi might be part of the trade package for a Buchnevich …”

          The implication is that Brett wrote it. ?

  • Pavel Buchnevich is 24. He averaged 40 points over past 2 years. He’s still young and seems to be getting better. I would not be in any rush to move him, which could really backfire on Rangers if Buch gets 50 points regularly for new team.

    • By no means am I advocating he be traded. I put that quote out there just for information, and what may be happening behind closed doors!!!!!!

  • Save your “bias” comments for political messages. I think Buch is overrated, that’s all. I thought Jimmy Vesey was overrated as well, and gasp, he’s North American. It’s a really weak argument to say anyone who disagrees with you has some sort of bias against him since he’s Russian.

    IMHO, they both did not progress too much since they started. Buch has shown signs here and there, and the end of last season was really good for him. To be fair, I think AV really messed with him and made him soft. But was equally surprised that it took him almost all season to come around and “play harder” for Quinn. I mean it took almost all season long, and it ain’t like Quinn was asking to drop the gloves all the time or anything outrageous.

    He is the ideal candidate for a show-me bridge deal. I don’t know many fans who are very high on his potential anymore (well, aside from bloggers… who I’m starting to think he is paying for content. Lol)

    • Buch pretty much played his first 3 years in the NHL at the same age as Vesey was in College, so if anyone here is truly overrated then it would be Vesey.

  • Kreider and Buch had almost ident stats over their first 3 seasons and were the same age. Buch was playing on a different ice surface in a foreign country with a language problem and a coach who bounced him around and didn’t like him on a lousy team. Why oh why would you think of trading this kid when he has more potential to be tapped and may very well be better than Kreider. He’s had time to adjust and a coach who doesn’t jerk him around and some more talent around him. This may well be a very big year for him.

  • A criticism on Buch is he is high maintenance in the sense that he constantly needs a ‘kick in the pants.’

    Hopefully maturity and a year under DQ has changed that.

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