Looking at Pavel Buchnevich’s next contract

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Among the restricted free agents in need of a new contract from the Rangers is Pavel Buchnevich. Buchnevich, despite being a talented Russian winger, is often a fairly controversial figure within the fan base.

Many feel that Buchnevich has not “panned out” or is a borderline bust, But that would be a mischaracterization. There was a common misconception that he would quickly become a 60 point scorer within a year or two in the NHL due to his impressive play in the KHL. That has yet to come to fruition, but it doesn’t mean it won’t.

It must be remembered though that, despite his great play in the KHL, Buchnevich was still only a 3rd round selection. To not pick up traction in the NHL until 2-4 years in is a very normal occurrence. And people also seem to disregard the fact that he still had 43 points two seasons ago.

But between that season and the one that ended just a few months ago, Buchnevich has proven that now is his time. He has started figuring out how to consistently score, as evidenced by his great play after January, and he is only 24 years old. A talented winger beginning to pick up his play is worthy of a new contract undoubtedly. But the amount is what will be interesting in the weeks to come.

Buchnevich, along with recently acquired Jacob Trouba, filed for salary arbitration a couple days ago. That said, he’ll likely agree to a contract before the case would ever have to be ruled on.

There really is a wide array of offers the Rangers could give to Buchnevich. Due to the fact that they have to sign Trouba and are still trying to make their salaries work after signing Artemi Panarin, they’re likely not going to be generous. Especially considering Anthony’s recent report that the Rangers would like to keep Chris Kreider.

I’d like to see a term of about four to five years. My guess is four because the Rangers are going to want to be careful with their contracts since, in the coming years, younger players deals will begin to end (Kravtsov, Kakko, Rykov, Fox, Shesterkin, and eventually Miller and Lundkvist).

If that is the case, they’ll start the negotiations at around $3.75 million. Buchnevich is not likely to accept a contract that low, but it’s setting an initial price. If he rejects anything in that area or lower, I expect the Rangers to offer him anywhere from $4.15-$4.45. I think Buchnevich may accept a contract somewhere in this range. Remember, you always have to pay more when buying up UFA years.

It’s tricky to predict though because a 24 year old winger scoring in the 30s and 40s who’s expected to produce more in the next year and beyond has a lot of value. There’s a realistic chance that Buchnevich’s camp tries to get the Rangers to offer up to $5 million. But with Trouba and other RFA’s Tony DeAngelo and Brendan Lemieux also needing news contracts, the Rangers will not give him that much.

Forty points is a nice amount, but the fact that Buchnevich hasn’t proven his consistency yet is why he’s not going to get $5-$5.5 million plus like other wingers might get. I believe they’ll agree to something in the $4-$5 million range and if he proves he can consistently score forty or more points per year, then perhaps he’ll be extended later on with a larger contract.

Of course, since the Rangers are tight on cap space, it could just be a bridge deal between 2-3 years, at around $3.5M per. My final prediction is below.

Prediction: 4 years/$19 million, $4.75 million AAV, Modified NTC in last year

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