Chris Drury on the draft and explains the Buchnevich trade

After the first round of the NHL Entry Draft, New York Rangers General Manager Chris Drury spoke about the draft and the trading of Pavel Buchnevich earlier on Thursday.  First round pick Brennan Othmann also spoke about being drafted by the Blueshirts.

Drury on the Buchnevich deal

It was clear that the Rangers traded Pavel Buchnevich primarily to clear some space in the salary cap, but Drury also explained that the surplus of wingers on the roster was a factor.

Drury said “There’s only so much cap space to go around. . so much ice time to go around.  I feel pretty good, very good about our depth at winger with the draft picks we’ve had and with veterans we’ve signed. That’s about it.”

That’s good news for both Kaapo Kakko and Vitali Kravtsov.  Least season the Rangers primarily used Buchnevich and Colin Blackwell on the right side on the top two lines with Kakko and Kravtsov relegated to the third line.  It appears that the two former first round draft picks will get the first chance to start on the top six at right wing.   Barclay Goodrow will be a lock for the third or fourth line with Julien Gauthier getting a better chance of earning some ice time.

Drury was asked why he pulled the trigger on the Buchnevich deal today when the Rangers still have some cap flexibility and could have gotten the Russian to play one more season here even if they had gone to arbitration.

Drury reaffirmed what he has said about the cap and roster clutter. “It gives us some flexibility moving forward for the rest of this off-season.  As I said, there’s only so much (cap space) to go around whether it’s this year or next year and certainly ice time is a factor.,” said Drury.  He concluded “That’s part of what went into it.”

The mission is clearly to remake the bottom six and explained why. “You go back to the bubble, you go back to some games last season, we’re trying to reshape it.  When guys go over the boards they will know what their role is and what we expect from them.”

It was just another confirmation that the Rangers’ abysmal performance against the Islanders and their mauling by Tom Wilson was one of the primary reasons for the change in management.

He did say that new acquisition Sammy Blais help in that area.  Drury talked about Blais, saying “He brings a lot of size and a physical edge.  He’s got all kinds of upsides.  In the minutes he’s played in the past he’s got good production.”

Drury didn’t sound like he was done, saying  “We’re always looking to get better. Every day we’re making calls. looking at different things, talking to different people. if we can get better, we will.”

About Brennan Othmann

Drury said that there had been some conversations about trading their first round pick, but they were never close to a deal.  Drury said “We talked to a lot of different teams, a lot of different possibilities, it wasn’t that close.”  He concluded by saying “We’re always looking to improve the team and if there was something we could have done to improve the team, we would have but at the end of the day we’re happy we kept it and got the player we did.”

About Othmann,  Drury said “We’re excited to get him where we did.  We had narrowed it down to three or four players at that pick.  He’s a Swiss Army knife kind of player….can play both wings,  can play up and down the lineup…has a big edge to his game, has a big time shot..understands how to play a 200 foot game. Were excited to bring him into the mix.”

Brennan Othmann also answered questions, saying that he models himself after Matthew Tkachuk of the Calgary Flames and Kyle Connor of the Winnipeg Jets. He said that he like what Tkachuk brings, “his physical game, leadership and he gets under guys skins. It’s exactly what I bring.”

Othmann described himself as “an offensive player who plays a physical game, gets under guys’ skins, and can be a tough guy on the ice.”

He also talked about how tough it was in the pandemic which he spent mostly in his garage in Pickering, Ontario, working out.   He is a natural left winger who can also play the right side.  He said he was excited about playing with Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafrenière.

About the two stars, he said “I think I fit in great. they’re two great players, right and left wingers.  They can feed me and I’ll put the puck int he back of the net all the time.  It’s gonna be fun and we’re gonna have a great team in a few years.”

Interestingly, considering his experience as a pro player in Switzerland, the 18-year-old is considered by some to be closer to being NHL  ready than many of his peers in he first round.