After coming over from Russia, New York Rangers winger Pavel Buchnevich had an up and down rookie season through no fault of his own.
In just 41 regular season games, New York Rangers fans fell in love with rookie winger Pavel Buchnevich and for good reason.
In the early going, Buchnevich found instant chemistry with center Mika Zibanejad and winger Chris Kreider. The trio tore up the competition in the preseason and was held together to start the season by Alain Vigneault.
Buchnevich started his season off with a strong game against the New York Islanders. He tallied three shots on net to go along with an assist in a 5-3 victory. After playing one more game, Buchnevich was forced to sit out of the lineup for about two weeks with back spasms, an injury that was thought to not be worthy of worry.
As it turned out, the injury ended up being worse than originally anticipated.
Buchenvich ended up missing two weeks of action. He came back and played the Rangers next eight games starting on October 28th. In the last four of those eight, Buchnevich was on a four-game goal scoring streak, notching six points in total in those four games.
And then the back injury started to cause him more trouble. Buchenvich missed just over two months of action after that, returning on January 13th in a matchup with the Maple Leafs. He picked up where left off upon returning to the lineup, notching another six points in four games, extending his point streak to eight in a row.
He only managed another two goals and four assists over the remainder of the season. While he wasn’t always at his best, it didn’t help that he always seemed to be glued to the bench and playing fourth line minutes even though it didn’t suit his skillset.
The Buchnevich Effect
When the playoffs came, there seemed to be a battle for the 12th forward slot between Buchnevich and Tanner Glass.
Glass had the advantage early, as a favorite of Alain Vigneault’s and nobody else’s. In fairness to Glass, he did play very well in the playoffs. Even though he was playing the best hockey of his Rangers’ career, the Rangers were a much better team, especially against Montreal, with Buchnevich in the lineup.
Buchnevich gave the Rangers the ability to roll four lines, something that they did well in their wins and something they failed to do in their losses. Although he didn’t score a goal in the playoffs, Buchnevich had an assist and 10 shots in his five playoff appearances. For the most part, he performed better than the scoresheet indicated in those games.
The Rangers former third round pick is viewed by the organization as untradable, and for good reason. While he only tallied eight goals and 12 assists in the regular season, the kid has a wicked fast wrist shot reminiscent of former Ranger Marian Gaborik with the size and speed to be a force to be reckoned with in this league for a long time. He made an impact in his stint with the team this past season and will make an even bigger impact when he’s back for 17-18.