As it goes with just about any relationship, there comes a time after the bond has been terminated where one or both parties may long for the others‘ return.
Yet there also must come a moment where those same two parties must accept the situation and “keep moving forward”, as they say in the popular animated film Meet the Robinsons.
A quick examination of New York Rangers Twitter will yield the results of a fanbase that still has not accepted the Pavel Buchnevich trade. However, the final stage of grieving must finally materialize; it is time to accept the Buchnevich trade and move on.
Yes, the trade was bad
I tend not to care for being the bearer of bad news, but the Buchnevich trade, which saw the Rangers receive the gritty depth winger Sammy Blais along with a second round pick while Buchnevich packed his bags and headed for St. Louis to join the Blues, was a bad move.
There will be no counter argument from yours truly. The Rangers are currently searching for a scoring right winger in the trade market, which they previously had in the former 2013 third round (75th overall) draft pick.
The young Russian has recorded 45 points (18 goals, 27 assists) in 44 games played. That certainly could have been the answer to the 5-on-5 scoring woes the Rangers are presently facing. According to IcyData Hockey, Buchnevich generates about 22 percent of his shots in the low slot resulting in high danger scoring chances this season.
Additionally, about 33 percent of his goals come from the net front. Those are the types of goals scored in tough, hard fought hockey games. Those are the types of goals that are expected in the playoffs, which is where the Rangers hope to be when the regular season ends.
Meanwhile, Sammy Blais has racked up a measly four points, all of them assists, in 14 games before being placed on long term injured reserve for the remainder of the season.
It is no secret that the unit that featured Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, and Buchnevich was one of the most effective lines in hockey, and having that line assembled with new bench boss Gerard Gallant could have allowed for more creativity within the trio.
Instead, the Rangers are operating under a plug-and-play mindset to find the third player for the Zibanejad-Kreider duo; a line that has seen several different combinations, including Kaapo Kakko, Barclay Goodrow, Alexis Lafrenière, and even brief stints with Julien Gauthier, Dryden Hunt, and Sammy Blais along the right side.
It is generally accepted that moving a player scoring at over a point per game for a bottom six forward and a second round draft choice is ill-advised, especially when that forward could currently help solve one of the major issues that plagues this Rangers squad.
Still, the termination period has come and gone; and so must Buchnevich discourse.
It’s time to move on
It may be difficult for some fans to do this, but the time has come to accept the Pavel Buchnevich trade and move on. A silhouette of Buchnevich barreling over Boston Bruins super-pest Brad Marchand will forever reside into the minds of Rangers fans. Yet, the past is still the past.
The trade happened, it was done. Finito. It cannot be reversed, and continuing to harp on it will not fix any dissatisfaction with the current structure of the team; mind you, that team possesses a record of 33-13-5 and remains sixth in the entire National Hockey League standings.
Additionally, while the hole Buchnevich left on the right side was one that needed to be filled, the aforementioned Lafrenière has been slotted there recently; and I must say he’s been playing mighty well on that top line.
While the points may not be there for the young native of St-Eustache, Quebec, Lafrenière’s talent has shined more recently than it has his entire Rangers tenure. That is a statement that should get most fans excited about what the future may hold and forgetting about what could have been.
Furthermore, “what could have been” was exactly one year of potential term remaining for Buchnevich on this Rangers team. With plenty of players on the roster set for new contracts, including the two eight year deals signed by Zibanejad and Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox, there eventually would have been a casualty to a team that was bound to be up against the salary cap.
It is no secret that the Rangers could not afford to sign Buchnevich to a long term extension. There was a rumor at the time that arbitration may be the route taken, with the team letting the arbiter decide on a one year deal carrying whatever cap hit was considered to be fair value.
However, with the current position the Rangers are in, it is unlikely the team would have traded Buchnevich come this deadline. Thus, he would have stayed until the end of the season and left via free agency leaving the Rangers with no return on investment; other than that one year on the contract, of course.
Instead, the front office clearly felt it was necessary to receive assets for their valuable trade piece as opposed to simply letting him waltz into the free agent market and collect his shiny new contract.
Was the return less than expected, perhaps even pennies on the dollar? Maybe, but getting some modicum of a return on a player that has trade value is vital in building a contending team.
The Rangers play the Blues and Buchnevich twice in the next two weeks so we are sure to hear a lot about this deal, especially if the ex-Ranger makes his former team pay.
While plenty of fans are rightfully upset with the poor return on the Buchnevich trade, time has come to move on. What is done, is done; there is no going back.