As trade season ramps up, there are more and more calls to trade specific players. Pavel Buchnevich seems to be the most targeted among skaters under contract to trade. Larry Brooks seems adamant about it, saying the Rangers need to cut costs by trading him. I staunchly disagree.
First things first, we as bloggers need to take blame for some of the Buchnevich hate. Buchnevich was the first really hyped prospect the Rangers had in a while, and his KHL numbers suggested he might be a truly elite player. Thus we as bloggers hyped and hyped, and he never met that Evgeni Kuznetsov of Vladamir Tarasenko numbers. I played a big role in that, and I own part of the out of control hype machine. Sorry!
That said, Buchnevich isn’t a “bust” or “useless” as many have described him. Buchnevich is, at the very least, a 40-50 point player who is a good fit on the top-nine of a team that desperately needs secondary scoring. He’s averaged 40+ points through his first three full seasons (82-game pace). Buch has been extremely snake-bitten this season (SH% of 9.5%, career average of 12.5%), but he’s still on an 82-game pace of 15-30-45. All this while also driving offense and doing some of the little things for Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad to do their thing. As mentioned on the podcast, he does the dirty work for them.
That brings us to Buchnevich’s contract. Buchnevich carries a $3.25 million cap hit through the end of next season, when he will be an arbitration-eligible RFA. A 40-50 point player who drives offense at under $5 million (5%-6% of the cap ceiling) is worth the money, and Buchnevich comes in at just 4% of the current cap ceiling. For a team with $20 million committed to two players for the next six seasons, the Rangers need to find bargains. At his current contract, Buchnevich is one of those bargains.
Next contract aside for the moment, since we are talking about this year’s trade deadline, the Rangers need players like Buchnevich to fill out their forward depth. All teams need players like Buchnevich, who drive offense and aren’t a total disaster in their own end. Depth players matter, and Buchnevich is one of the better bargains at the moment. For a team in a “cap crunch,” trading him now would be folly*.
*Disclaimer: No player is untradeable, and if there is a great deal for him on the table, then by all means trade him. The point of this post is about dumping him for futures or as a cap dump.