Buchnevich traded to the Blues for Sammy Blais and a draft pick

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 17: Pavel Buchnevich #89 of the New York Rangers skates in warm-ups prior to the game against the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden on April 17, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 17: Pavel Buchnevich #89 of the New York Rangers skates in warm-ups prior to the game against the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden on April 17, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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In a move that has to be seen as a cap space saving transaction, the New York Rangers traded top winger Pavel Buchnevich to the St. Louis Blues for winger Sammy Blais and a 2022 second round draft pick. Buchnevich is an arbitration eligible Restricted Free Agent and based on the last two seasons, he would be looking for a substantial increase on his most recent contract with an Average Annual Value (AAV) of $3.25 million.

Buchnevich, 26,  played five seasons with the Rangers after being selected in the third round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.  He has steadily improved every season and had his best year this season with career best goals and points per game numbers.  This season he unexpectedly became one of the team’s best penalty killers and his play in all three zones was outstanding. His 16 goals and 36 points at even strength was tops on the team.

Trading Buchnevich means that only Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad are left from the 2016-17 New York Rangers squad.

Who is Sammy Blais?

In Sammy Blais, the Rangers are getting a physical, bottom six left winger who is 6’2″, 205 pounds.  He just turned 25 years old and is going into the second year of a two-year deal paying him $1.5 million a year.  After the 2021-22 season he will be an arbitration-eligible Restricted Free Agent (RFA).

Blais does make the Rangers “harder to play against,” but he also has had a hard time staying healthy.  He has never played more than 40 games in a season and has had at least one concussion.  In 2017-18, after being brought up from San Antonio he missed time with a lower body injury and concussion.  In 2018-19  he spent half the season in the AHL with San Antonio before joining the Blues for their run to the Stanley Cup.  In 2019-20 he underwent wrist surgery and missed some time.  This season he found himself benched as Craig Berube sought more emotion and passion in his game.

Blais does give the Rangers a second player with a Stanley Cup ring, along with newly acquired Barclay Goodrow.  In the 2019 playoffs, Blais played in 15 of the Blues 26 playoff games, averaging just under 12 minutes of ice time and scoring one goal and three points.

Grading the trade

Considering the kind of season Pavel Buchnevich had, the return has to be seen as pretty lousy. He was second on the team in goals with 20 and fourth in scoring with 48 points, strong numbers considering he didn’t seem much time on the power play.  He was one of the team’s top penalty killers and was popular with his teammates.

When one considers that the team was able to flip draft fiasco Lias Andersson last year for a second round pick, the belief has to be that the Rangers could have gotten more.

On a salary cap basis, it’s a wise move since the likelihood is that the salary cap will probably not go up next year. With Adam Fox, Kaapo Kakko, Vitali Kravtsov and Alexandar Georgiev in need of new deals in 2021-22, they have to make sure that they have the cap space.

The Rangers also have a surplus of top six wingers and moving Buchnevich frees some space.

All in all, trading Buchnevich  was not a shock, the surprise was how little they got in return.

DeAngelo bought out

The Rangers placed Tony DeAngelo on waivers and bought him out on Friday.  That means they will on the hook for $383, 334 in dead cap space this season and $883,334 next season.  It also means that he is available to sign with any team as an Unrestricted Free Agent starting on July 28.

They had attempted to trade him and also exposed him in the expansion draft, but no team was willing to take him on knowing that free agency was looming.

What’s next

The first round of the NHL Entry Draft begins at 8pm and will conducted virtually. It will be televised live on ESPN2 and the Rangers have the 15th pick.  They could still be in a trade mode right up until the time that the pick has to be made.

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