Rangers could consider Pavel Buchnevich trade with ‘creative’ Blues: report

NHL: New York Islanders at St. Louis Blues
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Now that they addressed their need for a third-line center by acquiring Alex Wennberg, the New York Rangers are expected to make an even bigger deal for a top-line right wing before the NHL trade deadline Friday.

All signs point to the Rangers working on a reunion with Frank Vatrano to fill that need on right wing. But could there be another reunion option at the position?

Word out of St. Louis is that Blues general manager Doug Armstrong is willing to “get creative” regarding a trade of former Blueshirts forward Pavel Buchnevich. Creative could mean the Blues would retain half of Buchnevich’s $5.8 million salary which carries through the 2024-25 season. 

So, that could be two playoff runs at an average annual value of $2.9 million for the five-time 20-goal scorer.

If it sounds too good to be true for the Rangers, it probably is.

Frank Seravelli of Daily Faceoff wrote Wednesday that, “Armstrong was reportedly looking for one first-round pick and one first-round pick equivalent, and retaining [salary] would force a team to add in one more premium top-level asset.”

For argument’s sake that could mean, in theory, the Rangers’ first-round pick in 2024, either Brennan Othmann or Gabe Perreault and perhaps a prospect in the line of Drew Fortescue, Brett Berard, Adam Sykora or, perhaps, Zac Jones. 

And that’s before factoring where the relationship between Buchnevich and the Rangers stands. Buchenveich was traded by the Rangers to the Blues on July 23, 2021 because of salary-cap issues and there appeared to be no love lost in that relationship.

Related: Updated Rangers trade board before deadline Friday

Rangers reunion with Pavel Buchnevich would require ‘creative’ approach

NHL: New Jersey Devils at New York Rangers

Buchnevich has thrived in St. Louis. The 28-year-old has 191 points, including 80 goals, in 196 games since being traded to the Blues. He scored an NHL career-high 30 goals and 76 points in 2021-22 and has 24 goals and 48 points in 60 games this season.

Of forwards on the trade market, likely only Jake Guentzel of the Pittsburgh Penguins is more attractive than Buchnevich.

The Blues are under no pressure to trade Buchnevich. They have him signed through next season and are just six points out of the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference with 20 games to play this season.

But they’re also a team clearly looking to rebuild, or reboot, and trading Buchnevich could help fast track that plan.

Trading for Vatrano remains a more possible scenario for the Rangers after picking up Wennberg in a trade with the Seattle Kraken on Wednesday. But GM Chris Drury wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t pick up the phone to discuss things with Armstrong, unless the Buchnevich relationship is too damaged.

If the price is too high, which it sure sounds like, the Rangers move on.

But closing the eyes and picturing Buchnevich playing alongside Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider with the Rangers again is worth the exercise, too.

File this in the unlikely, but not impossible, file.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

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