New York Rangers: Who are the best linemates for Pavel Buchnevich?

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 24: Pavel Buchnevich
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 24: Pavel Buchnevich /
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Entering his third NHL season, Pavel Buchnevich is quickly emerging as a piece for the New York Rangers to build their new core around. However, every player has certain players that they build chemistry with. Buchnevich is no different.

Pavel Buchnevich has, so far, proven to be a diamond in the rough for the New York Rangers. Buchnevich was taken in the third round, 75th overall, in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. After playing a few seasons in the KHL, Buchnevich came over to North America for the 2016-17 season.

Buchnevich has flashed offensive brilliance and has shown a lot of talent. However, injuries and the mistrust of former head coach Alain Vigneault never really allowed the young Russian winger to get off on the right foot.

Regardless of all this, Buchnevich has shown consistent growth. After posting 20 points in 41 games in his rookie season, he put up 43 points in 74 games in 2017-18, more than doubling the previous year’s point total.

This year, with new head coach David Quinn stressing the development of young players, as well as playing a puck possession game, the stage is set for Buchnevich to break out.

One thing that would go a long way towards that breakout is keeping him with consistent linemates. The two best line mates for Buchnevich to help reach his full potential are Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad.

Kreider, the organization’s top left winger, and Zibanejad, the franchise’s number one center, are the perfect compliments to Buchnevich.

Kreider is a physical freak, a rare combination of size and speed. When he’s at the top of his game, he’s the quintessential power forward who plays like a bull in a china shop.

Zibanejad is a slick play-making center, who also possesses a rocket of a shot, and is lethal from the circles on the power play.

The line of Kreider-Zibanejad-Buchnevich debuted on opening night of the 2016-17 season. In that game, they immediately showed that they belong together.

The line, dubbed the “KZB Line,” displayed remarkable chemistry, though Vigneault frequently broke them up. But, it is undeniable that when the line is together, it is clearly the New York Rangers’ best line.

Over the past two seasons, the line has played 48 games together. In those 48 games, they have posted a Corsi of 56.56, which is incredibly impressive, considering the Rangers have been absolutely horrible possession-wise over the past two seasons.

The trio also carries an expected goals for percentage of 59.29. So, the stats clearly back up what the eye test shows; the line is incredibly effective when together.

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Hopefully Coach Quinn realizes that this line is the Rangers’ best bet for success, and keeps them together. If he does, it could go a long way towards helping Buchnevich reach his full potential, as well as putting Zibanejad and Kreider in the best possible positions to thrive.