New York Rangers need to give Buchnevich freedom next season

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 24: Pavel Buchnevich
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 24: Pavel Buchnevich /

It’s time to start paying attention to New York Ranger’s forward Pavel Buchnevich.

It’s no secret that the New York Rangers are at the beginning stages of a youth movement. Although the team has an interesting group of prospects in the pipeline, there are key players that have played in the NHL before.

Prospects in the system like Filip Chytil and newly drafted Vitali Kravtsov are certainly garnering well deserved attention. However, let’s not forget about the young players already up with the big club. Pavel Buchnevich is only 22 years old and is coming off of a 43 point season in only 74 games.

Couple this with making the adjustment onto North American soil, there had been a lot going on for the young Russian. The jump he’s made from his rookie season to his second season is encouraging, but comparing him to other forwards in their second season is just plain exciting.

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There are flashes of an elite player when Buchnevich is given the proper company. Given a larger opportunity, the Russian could post something in the neighborhood of 50 points.


Comparing him to some of his countrymen may leave a bit to be desired.

Nikita Kucherov and Artemi Panarin had more productive seasons in their respective second years. In the case of Panarin, he was also two years older than Buchnevich while playing in his 2nd season in Chicago.

Both of these players are star players in the league. Although, there is one other star Russian forward who had similar statistics to Buchnevich now: Evgeny Kuznetsov, center for the Stanley Cup Champion Washington Captials.

Scouting report on Evgeny Kuznetsov by Mike Vogel

Washington drafted the young forward in 2010. They keyed in on his great offensive talent, notable even at a young age. Although, much like any young forward with speed and skill, he lacked defensive skills.

Labeled talented, he would also be a candidate for constant coach migraines. Good news for the Caps (and bad news for everyone else) the only headaches he caused were in the heads of opposing coaches.

His second season in the league disappointed Caps fans, only scoring 37 points in 82 games played, but he improved drastically then after. Kuznetsov has now scored over 70 points in two of three seasons since then, becoming an integral cog in a Stanley Cup winning team.

How does Buchnevich stack up to Kuznetsov?

Scouting reports from Buchnevich’s draft day are strikingly similiar to Kuznetsov’s. A smooth skater with great offensive talent and physical build. The similarities don’t end there, as both players struggled on the defensive side.

Whether it be effort, or a lack of commitment to learn, both players had difficulties playing the 200 foot game. Luckily, Kuznetsov figured it out as he gained experience playing the North American game.

I’m not saying that Buchnevich will just adjust as quickly, however, it’s not hard to picture that he will with time. The offensive statistics are there to match Buchnevich’s potential growth, as he is slightly ahead of Kuznetsov at the end of their respective second seasons. The true test lies in whether he can commit to all facets of the game.

What’s best for Buchnevich?

So with the promise of potential being what it is, where can the Rangers play him in the lineup?

If the Rangers really want to see what they have in the young forward its time to give him serious minutes.

Playing Buchnevich on one of the top two forward lines will give him an opportunity to prove himself. If put on a line with Zibanejad and Hayes or Zuccarello, Buchnevich will be allowed the spacing and talent required for him to spread his wings.

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Keeping him as a third or fourth line player will do nothing but stunt his growth at this stage. Players like Kuznetsov, Panarin, and Kucherov had these opportunities and flourished. The same needs to be done with Buchnevich on a consistent basis, and patience is the key.

Growing pains aren’t fun, but if he makes the jump, fans won’t mind being patient for Pavel.