After much speculation, the Rangers finally signed Pavel Buchnevich to an entry level contract. The 21-year old Russian prospect agreed to a three-year deal worth $925,000 per season.
Originally selected 75th overall in the third round of the 2013 NHL Draft five picks ahead of ex-Ranger Anthony Duclair, Buchnevich has played in the Kontinental Hockey League the past four seasons. Playing mostly with the hometown Severstal Cherepovets, the forward developed into a good scorer in the KHL while playing against professionals.
After putting up 13 goals and 17 assists totaling 30 points in 48 games for Severstal Cherepovets in ’14-15, Buchnevich tallied 12 goals and 17 assists in 40 contests this past season before he was traded to St. Petersburg SKA. Playing on the same team as former NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk, he totaled four goals and four helpers in 18 games. During his first KHL playoffs, he scored one goal with two assists and had 29 penalty minutes in 14 games.
A offensively gifted player with good skating and play making skills, Buchnevich is expected to slot into the Rangers’ top nine in ’16-17. Ever since he was drafted, the Russian from Cherepovets, Russia has wanted to become the first player to make the NHL from his hometown. He’ll get that chance this Fall.
Part of the blockbuster trade with the Blue Jackets that sent Rick Nash to the Rangers in exchange for Artem Anisimov (Brandon Saad), Brandon Dubinsky, Tim Erixon and a 2013 first round pick (Kerby Rychel), Buchnevich is the other part of the deal the Rangers have been waiting on. Now, they’ll finally have the chance to see what the talented 21-year old can do.
Buchnevich represented Russia at two Under-20 World Junior Championships registering three goals and 10 assists for 13 points in 14 games. Having seen him in that tournament, the talent is there. He is a shifty skater with good speed and skill that should suit him well in the Rangers’ system.
It all depends on how quick a transition it’ll be for a player who doesn’t speak any English. The Rangers will have Buchnevich spend most of the summer in New York to help him get accustomed to life in the Big Apple. He’ll have a tutor.
There has also been talk of the Rangers possibly bringing in another Russian to help him. The question is do they really want to explore a Alex Radulov, who despite bundles of talent lasted nine games and eight more in the 2012 NHL Playoffs with the Predators before returning to the KHL.
Given their cap situation, that won’t be the focus this summer. Keith Yandle is the top priority. If it’s true his family loves the city, he might take a home discount to stay. Imagine a player passing up more money on the open market to help the Rangers because he loves it here. Hopefully, it proves true.
General Manager Jeff Gorton also must re-sign Group II free agents Kevin Hayes, Chris Kreider, Dylan McIlrath and J.T. Miller. The three forwards will be more expensive than McIlrath, who better have a top six spot on next year’s roster.
Meanwhile, it looks like Dominic Moore won’t be back. No surprise here. In his second stint with the team that drafted him out of Harvard in the third round in 2000, he was a solid fourth line pivot who was one of the team’s top penalty killers and face-off men. If he winds up elsewhere, best wishes to him.
Viktor Stalberg would like to return. He certainly had a solid first campaign on Broadway playing third and fourth line while playing penalty kill. It all depends on what happens with everything else.
It remains to be seen if the Rangers will explore either a trade or buyout with Dan Girardi. If Yandle re-upped, wouldn’t it make sense to see if they can move Marc Staal? Brady Skjei will be part of the solution on the back end. You never know what the organization is thinking.