Buchnevich of the St. Louis Blues is key to the teams’ future success
When the St. Louis Blues acquired Pavel Buchnevich from the New York Rangers, there was no doubt the team gained a future star. Less than a year into the swap deal, its impact and the team’s confidence in the Russian striker is bigger than anyone anticipated, and will be even bigger in the future.
Buchnevich played a key role in reviving Vladimir Tarasenko’s career. After publicly requesting a trade, the front office needed dynamic scoring to replace the Russian’s high-end scoring ability. However, the acquisition of Buchnevich may be one of the main reasons why the disgruntled striker is still with the organization. This season, Tarasenko not only surpassed the 30-goal mark for the sixth time in his 10-year NHL career, he also reached a new career high with 79 points. Of Tarasenko’s 33 goals this season, Buchnevich has had 17.
Buchnevich also found chemistry with a 22-year-old Robert Thomas as center line play. Together, this trio formed one of the most impactful lines in the league. According to MoneyPuck.com, Tarasenko, Thomas and Buchnevich played 325 minutes together, the least of the top 15 most productive line combinations in the NHL. Still, they combined for 31 goals while producing the third-highest goals-per-60-minute rate (GF/60) of 5.72 behind the Toronto Maple Leafs line of Bunting-Matthews-Marner (6.52 GF /60), and the Burakovsky-MacKinnon-Rantanen Line of the Colorado Avalanche (6.17 GF/60).
Following the team’s 6-5 overtime win over the Minnesota Wild on April 16, Blues head coach Craig Berube was asked about Buchnevich’s play that allowed Brayden Schenn to score the game-winning goal “He was excellent tonight. I thought he was probably our best striker tonight. Whether it’s skating, making plays, being tough on the pucks, giving penalties, all that kind of stuff. He had a very good game. »
Buchnevich provided a balance to the roster that will see the Blues through to the playoffs.
Buchnevich’s future impact
Given the roster and contracts of their core forwards, the franchise is all but guaranteed a two-year window to compete for its next Stanley Cup. Their 23-man roster has just three locked forwards for the 2023-24 season — Brandon Saad, Buchnevich and Schenn. While Saad and Schenn are expected to continue contributing in different areas of the game, the 27-year-old Buchnevich will continue to be relied upon to coach and guide promising forwards like Jake Neighbours, Zach Bolduc, Nikita Alexandrov, and Klim Kostin. He will likely be counted on to help guide these young players as they transition into full-time NHL players.
As a forward who rose through the ranks in the Rangers organization, he started his career averaging 13-15 minutes of time on the ice and walked the team roster in his three early seasons. Although the transition was not as smooth as some might have hoped for the Russian, he persevered and quickly saw an increase in his ice time and point production. He may be a viable option for the coaching staff to help mentor players like Kostin and Alexandrov who could have the potential to be hard-hitting two-way weapons for the Blues in the future.
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General manager Doug Armstrong will no doubt sign key forwards such as Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou to long-term contract extensions. However, they could be costly, and with payday looming for goaltender Ville Husso and the $6 million annual cap hit for Jordan Binnington, the organization’s ability to re-sign everyone will be affected. The franchise may be burdened with the difficult decision to part ways with beloved players and executives to accommodate the salary cap going forward.
As proven in the past with Alex Pietrangelo and David Backes, Armstrong isn’t afraid to move on if he feels contract negotiations and player salaries will cause financial hardship for his team. With several prime years left in Buchnevich’s career, the future impact on the team and his liability may become greater than anyone realizes. With just three years left on his contract, the Blues will need to take full advantage of his $5.9 million annual cap and build on the success he is enjoying this season.
Mike is a writer for The Hockey Writers and has been covering the St. Louis Blues since November 2021. He has a keen love for statistical analysis, outlook, signings and trades. To follow Mike Twitter for further Blues or Central Division hockey discussions, interview requests, or to provide content information.