A potential contract for Pavel Buchnevich and what the Rangers have to consider

Pavel Buchnevich, up for a new contract after this season, has been one of the Rangers’ top producers through the first half of the 2020-21 season. Buchnevich has been one of the most consistent offensively –  he is nearly a point per game player – having recorded 29 points in 30 games and 14 points in his last 10 games.

In the Rangers’ blow out against the Flyers last Wednesday, Buchnevich recorded two of the teams’ nine goals. He also recorded two secondary assists on goals from Jacob Trouba and Mika Zibanejad. With the total four points in the contest, Buchnevich hit a career high in points in a single game. In addition, he is on pace to hit record highs in goals (30), assists (49), and points (79) this season (82 game pace). He has also developed into one of the team’s strongest two-way forwards, earning increased ice time specifically in man-down situations.

The 25-year-old right winger went through bouts of limited ice time and misuse early in his career, but is finally becoming the player the Rangers hoped he would be when they drafted him 75th overall in the 2013 Entry Draft. Buchnevich was re-signed to a two-year contract extension when his entry-level contract expired at the end of the 2019 season. Now with his bridge deal set to expire, the question is will Buchnevich stay, and if so what will it cost?

A contract extension

The first contract offer extended to Pavel Buchnevich should be for five years at $5.25 million AAV. A $2 million bump and a longer-term deal should be the starting point. And with the way Buchnevich has been playing, there is no way this number ends up any lower than this.

Buchnevich is a team leader in every regard this season. There is no question that his agents use this as leverage and counter for more. How much more? Good question.

A good price for the Rangers absolutely cap the deal at is $5.7 million AVV. While some models suggest market value for Buchnevich is higher, support for this number comes from other contracts around the league.

One signed more recently is the contract the Red Wings signed in with their top line right winger Anthony Mantha. Mantha, currently 26 years old, signed a five year, $5.7 million AVV deal with Detroit in November 2020 and has numbers comparable to Buchnevich. In his career, he has recorded 92 goals and 96 assists for 188 points in 292 games versus Buchnevich who has 70 goals, 106 assists for 176 points in 277 games. This can be good proof for capping the price on a Buchnevich extension.

Also, looking at contracts that are a few years in also provides good evidence for the price range. For example, the contract of former Ranger J.T. Miller signed with the Lightning (and was traded to the Canucks). Miller is three years in to a five year contract signed at age 25. The contract is for $5.25 million AVV. In the four years since Miller has left the Rangers, he has comparable numbers to Buchnevich as well. He has scored 59 goals and recorded 107 assists for 166 points in 196 games.

One final thought when it comes to contract negotiations is any terms of no-trade or no-movement clauses. The key for the Rangers in extending Buchnevich could come in eventually needing to move that contract. With prospective talent being realized, avoiding these clauses or limiting the time tied up in these clauses would be a key point.

Potential cap constraints

In considering how much a Pavel Buchnevich contract would cost, one must also consider how much of it the Rangers have. Management will be dealing with a flat cap and has most of their money in Jacob Trouba, Chris Kreider, and Artemi Panarin ($26 million). The Rangers will have about that much cap space to consider re-signing any players (roughly $28 million).

Along with Buchnevich — a restricted free agent — to sign, Brendan Smith and Phil DiGiuseppe become unrestricted free agents. They also have expiring entry level contracts coming for six additional players currently on the active roster: Igor, Shesterkin, Filip Chytil, Ryan Lindgren, Julien Gauthier, Brett Howden, and Libor Hajek.

This issue rolls over into the 2021-22 offseason. That’s when Adam Fox, Kaapo Kakko and Vitali Kravtsov’s ELCs expire. Brendan Lemieux and Alexandar Georgiev become RFAs. Mika Zibanejad, Ryan Strome, Colin Blackwell, and Kevin Rooney become unrestricted free agents.

All this in addition to any signings the Rangers want to target outside of their own pool.

Management needs to assess the goals in the next five years and who gets them to where they want to go. They need to determine if there is space there for Buchnevich.

Prospect development

With a few key players in development, there is a part of you knowing that if you re-sign Buchnevich, there may come point where his role changes. If he ends up playing in the bottom six, will you be able to acquire and pay for the additional assets needed for it to be worth paying $5 million+ for him to serve that role?

With so many players developing in the same position, do you instead put faith in the process and wait a few more years for this talent to round out?

Finally, as a trade piece you need to recognize that Buchnevich is one of the the easiest to sell. He’s a known asset with increasing ice time and production to match.

If the Rangers really do want to make a push for a number one center — Jack Eichel or otherwise — could adding Buchnevich help make a deal? If this decision comes later, this is where having limited no-movement clauses comes in handy.

The bottom line

Buchnevich has been one of the most consistent players for the Rangers this season. He has made himself into a very important piece, not just when it comes to production. This year, he has proven he is a true 200-foot-game player, adding value on both the penalty kill and on the Rangers new-and-improved forecheck.

There is a lot to consider when it comes to the conversation around this player, in part because he is such a beloved piece on the team. I am a big advocate for commitment to assets, especially because the Rangers have a tendency to turn to wait-and-see contracts and commit to these longer term deals too late. 

If the Rangers truly plan to contend in the next five years, they need someone like Buchnevich to continue to elevate play and add depth — whether he’s in a role on the first line or the third. The key is to fill out the holes and make what he’ll be paid for his time on the ice worth it.

Choosing Buchnevich for the longer-term now guarantees some consistency. And that will be key as the Rangers try to find the right formula to build a championship roster.

Contract pricing via Cap Friendly, stats via Hockey Reference

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  • He’s a keeper. All your points are valid. Over time Kakko and Kravtsov may be the future of our top 6 on the RW. But for now Buch is the top guy. It took him a few years to get there but he has arrived. It will take Kakko and Kravtsov time to get there as well. Including Buch in a deal for Eichel to me is one step forward one step backward. And considering Buch will cost about 57% of Eichel’s cap hit, at $5.7Mill, is the incremental cap hit for Eichel worth it?

    Also with our cap situation we need ELC’s coming every year. At some point they will get squeezed on the cap and have to make tough decisions. But they have time. 5 years $5.5ish mill no trade protection would be idle IMO.

    • The only way an Eichel deal makes sense is if the Sabers retain 50% of it. I am all for giving some of our kids a shot before mortgaging our future for the present.

  • Tough decision to make. Lots of wingers in the pipeline, but none contribute like Buch at this time. 5 year deal with freedom to move the player anywhere is probably the direction to go.

  • Let’s look at this differently. First line potential salary – Zibby 7.5, Buch 5.5, Krieder 6.5, Panarin 10, Strome 5.5 – That is over $35M tied up in your top 2 lines. Leaves you about $50M to build out the rest of your team. You need to pay your goalie about $5m and now you have $45M. We better hope that we have a pipeline of young, inexpensive talent or we will not be able to compete in the future.

    • We do, especially back on d’ where our 3rd pair will end up costing us ELC money for the next 2-3 years. If out of the 45M you spend 30M on our defense (8M Trouba, say 7M for Fox, 4-5M or so for Lindgren, leaving you 11M for Miller and the 3rd pairing — no way we spend all that money), you still have 15M for your bottom 6. Plus let’s acknowledge that within 2-3 years the cap will most definitely go up …. unless *ugh* we have another pandemic.

  • Hes trade bait.
    That or one of the top prospects is on waybout…
    Cant keep him, Kaako, Kravstov Gauthier.
    Buchy is outta here at deadline.
    Will miss laughing at his sour demeanor.

  • Buchnevich has been absolutely great this season and has been a 43-38-46 pt producer over the previous three seasons while having played 68-74 games in each of them. He’s not a one season wonder but a consistent player that the Rangers must hold on to but at what price?

    • So pay a 40 pt top 6 winger 5-6 mil per???
      With high draft picks right behind him.

      Buchy is trade bait!!

      • Whatever his level the last few years (I would say more like 50-55+ point Top 6 guy if you factor it as an 82 game season) he’s taken it to another level now — and has done that without benefitting from another player’s higher output. Plus, he is a beast on the PK and defensively very sound. High draft picks are just that, high draft picks — none have proven they can replace what Buch brings at this time — at a minimum we need to keep him around a few more seasons.

  • Buch has slowly and steadily improved every season to the point where he has 47 points in his last 50 games, has become a consistent two-way, 200 foot player, and is a key contributor to the #3 PK in the NHL.

    In the rebuild, he has developed to the point where he is a building block, not an asset to be used to maybe find another one.

  • Sign him up to 5-6 years @ up to $6M —- it’s a no brainer because he developed into exactly what they wanted in the first place, so why would you trade the prospect that ACTUALLY developed? Kakko is showing flashes and we all hope Kravs develops too, but this guy actually has. Offer him a NTC for the first 2 years if you have to, then a limited one for the years after that — again, if you have to.

    Buch is the insurance against the possibility that Kakko, Kravs and Gauthier don’t develop fully. I also think that with Panarin, Kreider, Mika, Buch and Strome we’re in some way retarding the next contract amounts for guys like Lafreniere, Kakko, Kravs and Chytil by limiting their Top 6 ice time — those kids don’t have to be the Top Dogs and their numbers will probably reflect that to some extent, unless one or more of them just takes the bull by the horns and out produces one of the Top 5 in the next year or two.

  • Frontload it with signing bonuses as much as the MOU allows for the 1st 3 seasons with limited NTC after, do a 5 year deal and you maximize the trade value whether he stays or goes. It just gives them the most flexibility possible.

  • Buchnevich is an obvious keeper. $6 mil or a little under for 5 years for a 25 year-old, almost a point a game, 2 way winger is a bargain. He is only slightly older than the new prospect wingers but has already established his worth. If they Rangers mean to compete seriously for a playoff spot next season, you keep Buchnevich.

    • I think your last sentence says it all. If we’re serious about competing for a SC he needs to be here regardless of whether or not we believe Kakko and Kravtsov are the heir apparents to the top 6 on the right side. Point is, neither is there just yet.

  • Lookit…the Rangers have the bucks for Buch….the issue as I see it is the nmc/ntc clauses. Avoid those and mistakes can be corrected, even if the team has to swallow some bucks in the future. The key IMO is having a young team maturing as much as possibly together, adding and subtracting pieces as it goes along. There should be more dollars coming in from the new TV deal and Kracken, but we really don’t know the leagues expenditures. Each team will definitely benefit. However, who wants to be where this team was 4 years ago? At CAP and with broken pieces. That the team has come this far and this fast ….Kudos to JG, and begrudgingly to DQ.
    Bottom line sign happy face, aka Buch.
    Finally and a little snarky… where on the blogosphere do I see or hear how terrible the scouts were for getting Buch with a 3rd at #75. Kudos to you guys, keep up the good work.

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