The time is now for Pavel Buchnevich to become a star for the Rangers

By Jordan Goldberg
pavel buchnevich
Time for Buchnevich to shine (Getty Images / NHLI)

Expectations were high early on for Pavel Buchnevich. The young Russian winger started exciting Rangers fans while he was still playing in the KHL, putting up solid numbers. Those expectations were a little too high and likely hurt Buchnevich early in his career. Impatient fans even took to calling him a bust, which was obviously not the case.

Pavel Buchnevich is starting to realize his potential

The 25 year-old Buchnevich was never really supposed to be Artemi Panarin or an Alex Ovechkin level talent out of Russia. But steadily, over his first few seasons, he has continued to get better and better.

Buchnevich has struggled from the typical issues that plague young NHL players. He would get lost on the ice pretty often, was inconsistent, and had some work to do defensively.

Buchnevich put up 43 points (14G, 29A) during his first full season in the league. That was the 2017-18 season during which the Rangers rebuild began. Not shockingly, as the team struggled so did he.

After a promising campaign the year prior, his play dipped overall. He had an 82 game pace that would beat the previous years total, scoring 38 points in 64 games. The Rangers were looking for more offensive consistency which they didn’t get but his issues were made worse with poor defensive play.

Last year was a big year for Pavel, one of transition into a top line winger. He found more of a voice and presence on the ice and really started to look more comfortable with his play. He notched 46 points in 68 games, an 82 game pace of 55 points. Last year he became more of a leader than he had in prior years and helped contribute to the standout season of ones of the leagues most dangerous forwards, Mika Zibanejad.

Out with the Old, In with the Young

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Buchnevich (Nick Homler/NYR)

So what does this mean for Buchnevich heading into this season? Well, believe it or not, he is now one of the more senior members of the squad due to the departures of Jesper Fast, Marc Staal, and Henrik Lundqvist. Additionally, the Rangers continue to load up their roster with very young inexperienced forwards; like Kaapo Kakko, Alexis Lafreniere, and Julien Gauthier.

This is the year for Pavel Buchnevich to really step into his role on the first line in full stride. He has been nothing but a top-six player playing on the top unit, but now is his time to become a true first line player. First liners are not only among the most talented scorers on an NHL roster but often bring additional leadership to the squad.

With a roster so young and his play finding more consistency, now is a perfect time for Pavel to show us why the hype was real out of the KHL. Not that he hasn’t been productive already, but this season could be the turning point in the young forward’s career.

Buchnevich had a very strong training camp and notched some points in the Rangers intra-squad scrimmages. David Quinn has gone out of his way to say so. This is a good sign heading into the start of the 2020-21 season with the Rangers facing off against the Islanders on January 14.

Playing alongside a recently extended Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad, who is entering the league’s ranks as one of its top centers, every aid is in place to allow Buchnevich to emerge as a true first line winger. With a roster that is filling up with high end talent, it’s time for him to take the next step and stay ahead of that pack.

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