The St. Louis Blues have acquired forward Pavel Buchnevich from the New York Rangers in exchange for forward Sammy Blais and a 2022 2nd round draft pick.
The Rangers are saving cap space for a big move, whether that is Jack Eichel, or maybe even Vladimir Tarasenko in a separate trade with the Blues. Buchnevich figured to be a casualty of that. As the Rangers prepare for some big upcoming RFA deals, they wanted to clear cap space so they wouldn’t have to get into a bad situation like other teams have. Buchnevich will be a restricted free agent after making $3.25 million over the past two seasons. But this trade is not good. Buchnevich was blossoming into a legitimate top-six winger, and he very well seemed like the top right-winger of the future for them. To deal him is disappointing; for this return, it is plain sad. Buchnevich easily could have netted a first-round pick. Blais is a fine, scrappy bottom-six player. He rode a 25.8 percent shooting rate to a career high in goals this year. He can provide the defensive grit that the Rangers have been targeting this offseason. Blais will be an RFA after next year. He has a $1.5 million cap hit for 2021-22.
Blais, 25, scored eight goals with seven assists for 15 points in 36 games for the Blues in 2020-21. In his NHL career, all for St. Louis, Blais has scored 17 goals with 18 assists for 35 points in 119 games.
The Blues were definitely in the market for a top-six winger. Tarasenko could be dealt any day now. Jaden Schwartz and Mike Hoffman could leave in free agency. To get a younger replacement for a second-round pick and a fourth-liner is a great deal. The next step is extending the restricted free agent Buchnevich. He could command in the $5-$6 million range long-term.
Buchnevich, 26, scored 20 goals with 28 assists for 48 points in 56 games for the Rangers in 2020-21. In his NHL career, all for New York, Buchnevich has scored 79 goals with 116 assists for 195 points in 301 games.