Blues 2021-22 Report Cards: Pavel Buchnevich

The St. Louis Blues’ 2021-22 season represented a major transition for the franchise. No longer a stout defensive team built from the blue line out, they finished second in the NHL in goals scored, with nine forwards recording 20-plus goals. Though the season came to an end in a six-game defeat by the Colorado Avalanche in the second round, there are plenty of highs and lows to reflect on. In this series, we’ll evaluate each player who played 10 or more games with the team (as well as the head coach and general manager), grading their individual performance and looking at their future with the team.

Pavel Buchnevich St. Louis Blues
Pavel Buchnevich, St. Louis Blues (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

In another brilliant move, general manager Doug Armstrong was able to get Pavel Buchnevich from the New York Rangers for Sammy Blais and a second-round pick. The St. Louis Blues have already benefitted greatly from this trade.

Related: Blues 2021-22 Report Cards: Doug Armstrong

Buchnevich had an excellent season, and was one of the most productive players on a roster with elite scoring all season. He was brilliant in every way, and this could end up being one of Armstrong’s best trades of his illustrious career.

What Went Right: Buchnevich’s Elite Overall Performance

Buchnevich was likely the Blues’ best two-way forward this season – I’d take him over Ryan O’Reilly. The main reason is the elite offensive output by Buchnevich. He proved that head coach Craig Berube could move him around the lineup, and it won’t matter, he was good with any linemate.

It was a career season in every way for him in 2021-22, with 76 points in 73 games, including 30 goals. He had never scored more than 50 points in a season with the Rangers throughout five seasons. He grew into the Blues system perfectly, and that was proven with his numbers. He was already breaking out with the Rangers last season, as he had 48 points in 54 games, but he took it to another level with the Blues.

His defensive game was excellent as well, having a defensive zone start percentage of 60.2 and still possessing quality metrics on the defensive end. He was a key penalty killer for the Blues, the unit finished fifth in the entire league. His impact and versatility on the power play were huge this season, tallying eight goals and 11 assists on the man advantage. There is zero doubt that Buchnevich had an elite season.

What Went Wrong: Buchnevich Didn’t Play All 82 Games

There aren’t many things to complain about with Buchnevich’s season. He only played 73 games, and that is the biggest gripe to have. He had an early-season suspension after head-butting Lawson Crouse, he missed two games due to that. He also had injuries and a COVID-19 absence, but only missing nine games is solid.

Pavel Buchnevich St. Louis Blues
Pavel Buchnevich, St. Louis Blues (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

This was the second-most games that he has played in a season, he played 74 in 2017-18 and only had 43 points. The biggest thing for Buchnevich was playing in a loaded forward group, and wasn’t asked to do as much overall. That makes this a great fit for Buchnevich and the Blues, which was on display this season.

If the Blues can get 70-or-more games out of him every season, that would be more than ideal. He’s been fairly dependable in his entire career, which is, unfortunately, the opposite of Blais. This trade was won by the Blues, but the Rangers were fine without him, reaching the Eastern Conference Final.

Key Facts

  • First Blues player other than Vladimir Tarasenko to score 30 goals since 2013-14 (Alexander Steen)
  • Plus-29, the best for a forward on the Blues
  • 199 shots on goal, second on the Blues

Final Grade: A

It’s easy to give Buchnevich this grade, as there is a definite argument that he was the Blues’ best forward this season. This trade always looked good with what the Blues gave up, but it’s even better with how well Buchnevich performed. He had the perfect regular season based on expectations, and I believe he deserves the best grade on the team, the only thing holding him back from a perfect grade is the inconsistent playoff performance.

What’s Next for Buchnevich?

It’ll be business as usual for Buchnevich this summer, as he is about to enter the second season of his four-year contract with the Blues. He also has a modified no-trade clause for the next three seasons, which means he can have a 12-team no-trade list. I don’t expect any sort of changes from Buchnevich entering the 2022-23 season, I have a lot of confidence in his ability to continue being elite on the ice.

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