Pavel Buchnevich
The Blues stole Pavel Buchnevich. The Blues made a smart gamble acquiring Buchnevich in the offseason but it’s paying serious dividends now. (Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports)

The Blues Stole Pavel Buchnevich

Pavel Buchnevich will always go down as a legend for helping me win my first fantasy hockey league championship. Of course, he’s paying bigger dividends for the St. Louis Blues. The Blues acquired Buchnevich this offseason from the New York Rangers for Sammy Blais and a 2022 second round pick. If it wasn’t abundantly clear before, it is now. The Blues stole Buchnevich and there really isn’t any other room for interpretation.

Buchnevich, 26, has 33 points in 32 games for St. Louis this season. He’s going to smash his single season point total record of 48 that came a year ago with the Rangers. Buchnevich isn’t a star but it was clear the flip switched a year ago. The former third round pick from Russia averaged a career high 18:44 minutes of ice time a year ago and was able to notch the 20 goal mark. What doesn’t make sense is why the Rangers were willing to cut bait so easily?

Of course, Buchnevich was given a contract extension by St. Louis as part of the trade. That obviously factored into the thinking for New York. I’m just not sure I can by the excuse. Buchnevich signed a reasonable contract with the Blues which will give him an average annual value of $5.8 million through the 2024-25 season. Certainly not a low cap number but one that should have been manageable for the Rangers.

Blais makes significantly less but he also can’t really play. Was there any reason to hand Patrik Nemeth an AAV of $2.5 million? Did they have to eat the Ryan Reaves contract? What about the philosophy behind paying Barclay Goodrow? If the Rangers believed Buchnevich was a point per game guy, they would have ponied up and paid the man.

Buchnevich doesn’t possess a super high shooting percentage (13.1%) but he has a sweet left-handed shot and his making more plays for others on the ice. Something he probably didn’t have the opportunity to do as often in New York. Buchnevich is posting a career high 0.38 goals created mark per game and his shot has been much more lethal. His shot through percentage sits at 71.2% which is far and away a career best. Buchnevich is taking better shots and they’re going on goal way more frequently. Of course, good things are happening too.

St. Louis sits one point back of Nashville in the Central division. A year ago, St. Louis kind of felt like a phony playoff team. NOW? Oh, they’re real… or at least more real this year. Buchnevich is a trusted first line winger playing up front with Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko. The former Ranger is a big reason why Tarasenko is having a monster bounce-back season.

Credit to the Blues, they stole Pavel Buchnevich. Taking a flier here always made sense but it’s paying off in a big way for the Blues. The Rangers are also having a very good season but it’s hard not to imagine how much more lethal they might be had they never made the trade.