Pavel Buchnevich thriving with Blues as he returns to face New York Rangers

Former New York Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich has found a home in St. Louis following a trade this past summer.

The writing was on the wall for former Buchnevich thanks to the flat-cap. The 26 year-old was about to be a restricted free agent going off a career year in New York where he had recorded 20 goals with 48 goals in a shortened 54 game season.

Chris Drury, possibly looking to add Jack Eichel at the time made a difficult decision to free up cap space not only for this season, but 2022-23 and beyond.

Rangers trade Pavel Buchnevich

The Rangers traded Pavel Buchnevich to the Blues in exchange for forward Sammy Blais and a second-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft.

Four short days later, the Blues took care of the contract situation by signing Buchnevich to a four-year $23.2 million contract on July 27, that also included a modified no-trade clause. The top line winger got the contract he was looking for, something the Rangers were unwilling to commit to regardless of the growth he had shown in New York.

When he was traded, fans were in an uproar and rightfully so. They understood reasoning behind the trade was to clear cap space for the future. However, there was an argument to be made to simply sign him for one year and let him walks as a UFA at the end of the season.

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Buchnevich now a key player in St. Louis

Pavel Buchnevich Rangers
Sep 27, 2021; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; St. Louis Blues right wing Pavel Buchnevich (89) looks on during the second period against the Dallas Stars at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Buchnevich is now a top player in St. Louis despite a slow start. In his first 11 games, he scored four goals with six points. The next 35 games saw him explode offensively, where he netted 15 goals with 25 helpers for 40 points. In that same span, he recorded 9 multi-point games.

Buchnevich’s 46 points in 46 games ranks second on the team in scoring, just three points behind Jordan Kyrou. For the record, Buchnevich has played in two less games.

He currently is playing second line left wing with Robert Thomas and Vladimir Tarasenko. Together they form the Blues most productive line.

Buchnevich became part of the Rangers PK unit last season and thrived. He’s now taken that ability to St. Louis as a member of the Blues. Head coach Craig Berube has been using Buchnevich on the penalty kill and enjoys what he brings to the unit.

“Buchy’s got a great stick, reads plays really well, has got great anticipation.” He went on to say that Buchnevich, “pressures up the ice really well.”

Buchnevich has scored one shorthanded goal and has assisted on two other for the Blues this season. St. Louis is currently ranked fourth in the NHL, killing off 85% of the penalties called against them.

On Wednesday night he will walk into the visitor’s locker room at Madison Square Garden to battle some old friends. He has found a home in St.Louis, one that has allowed Buchnevich to thrive to a level that he that he just started scratching with the Rangers.

It begs the question, if the Rangers are so desperate to find a solid top-six forward, why did they trade one away after displaying the talent and skill the team yearned for? The question is rhetorical, but you get it.

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