Admin note: With the regular season officially over, we are going to transition to some offseason content while we wait for the 24 team playoff. Usually we would do player report cards by position, but since there isn’t much going on and we can only write so much about the pending matchup with Carolina, it makes sense to go a little more in depth with each player review.
Pavel Buchnevich will always be a polarizing player in New York. The 25 year old had lofty expectations, mostly because he was the first legitimate talent to be excited about as a home grown player in a while. Buchnevich had bounced around the middle-six of the lineup for a while, but finally stuck in the top-six this season. When the season was cut short, Buchnevich had already set career highs in points (46) and assists (30), and was five goals short of tying his high there.
The key to Buchnevich finally sticking in the top-six was consistent performance. His 19-36-55 82-game scoring line pace was fifth among forwards and sixth among all Rangers skaters. The key to a team’s success is secondary scoring, and Buchnevich certainly provided that in spades.
Other key aspects to Buchnevich sticking in the top-six was his play, both offensively and defensively, away from the puck. The offense saw a significant improvement while Buchnevich was on the ice, a net 22% increase in overall shot quality/quantity against league average. Most of that offense was in front of the net as well.
Perhaps one of Buchnevich’s best improvements is on the defensive side of the puck. Buchnevich did sport a CF% of 50.82, which was tops on the team, and an xGF% of 51.85, third on the team. Both measure –to some degree– Buchnevich’s ability to keep the play in the offensive zone while limiting both quantity and quality of shots against. The graphic above shows that the team did play significantly better in the defensive zone while he was on the ice. This suggests that he was a major catalyst to improved defensive play across the board.
Successful teams need players like Buchnevich to be true contenders. He may not put up numbers like Artemi Panarin or Mika Zibanejad, but he’s a steady presence on both sides of the ice. His 55 point pace is perfect for secondary scoring as well. I’d like to see consistent 20-goal seasons, but deferring to Zibanejad isn’t exactly a bad idea nowadays.