Pavel Buchnevich holds no grudge against Rangers

As Pavel Buchnevich prepares for a career year at St. Louis this season, it’s fair to wonder what might have happened if president and general manager Chris Drury had managed to keep the Russian winger on the Rangers’ front row. .

The focus is on one way or another because realistically Buchnevich would never get the long-term deal he wanted with star goalkeeper Igor Shesterkin, Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox and top-flight center Mika Zibanejad still in line for new contracts at the time – all of which materialized.

“I’m good with everyone [on the Rangers]Buchnevich, who mentioned going to dinner with some of his former Rangers teammates, told reporters. “I’ve been here for five years. I have a lot of friends, a lot of memories. I know Shesterkin, his biggest goal is not to let me mark. A bunch of guys, the same way. So I try to do my best and score a goal, win the game. Its important to me.

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But speaking of guesses, if Buchnevich had agreed to a one-year deal this past offseason, Rangers would have locked down their front line. Instead, Rangers spent much of the season in a period of trial and error with this. right wing spot next to Zibanejad and Chris Kreider.

Pavel Buchnevich
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Buchnevich first skated alongside Zibanejad and Kreider under former Blueshirts coach Alain Vigneault at the start of the 2016-17 playoffs, in which the Rangers were knocked out of the second round in six games by the Senators. The trio finished the playoffs together, then played the first six games of the following season before going their separate ways.

After a streak alongside Zibanejad and Kreider at the end of the 2018-19 season under then-manager David Quinn, Buchnevich started the 2019-20 campaign on a line with Artemi Panarin. The “KZB” unit eventually became the coherent top unit of the Rangers a few months later.

Last season, Kreider, Zibanejad and Buchnevich recorded 372:27 together, according to Natural Stat Trick, recording 19 goals and 68 high-risk chances. While Kreider posted career low numbers and Zibanejad struggled mightily through the first half of his season, which was heavily impacted by a bout with COVID-19 early on, Buchnevich has transformed into a reliable type of player. for all situations.

So Buchnevich took his talents to St. Louis, signing a four-year, $23.2 million deal with an average annual value of $5.8 million. Going into his first game back at the Garden on Wednesday, Buchnevich was tied for second on the Blues with 46 points.

While Drury probably wished he could keep Buchnevich, trading him opened the door for a young Ranger to grab a top-six role. The hope was always that it would be Alexis Lafrenière, who filled Buchnevich’s old spot on Wednesday, as he had in the last nine games.

The Kreider-Zibanejad-Lafrenière unit has scored seven goals and allowed just two since reuniting on January 28 after a brief spell at the start of this season. Should Lafreniere blossom into the perfect addition to Rangers’ top line, the sting of Buchnevich’s loss may well fade.

“I’m making more plays than at the start of the year,” said Lafrenière, who had two goals and an assist in the last three games heading into Wednesday. “As I always say, I just try to improve – every practice, every game. When you play with confidence, that’s when you play your best hockey. I think it’s the same for all guys. So I’m just going to try to keep going and work hard and keep helping the team win.

New York Post

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