As the 2022-23 season is about to begin for the St. Louis Blues, it’s time to look back on the Pavel Buchnevich trade that general manager Doug Armstrong pulled off prior to the 2021-22 season. This trade has been fantastic for the Blues through one season.
Buchnevich’s Career Year in 2021-22
When the Blues acquired Buchnevich, the expectations weren’t for him to have the enormous season he did in 2021-22. He was brought in to be a valuable top-six forward; he’s been all that and more through one season. When he was with the New York Rangers, the potential to score 30 goals and tally nearly a point per game was there, but it didn’t come to fruition until he was in St. Louis. There are plenty of factors for that, but I believe it starts with his fast-growing chemistry with Robert Thomas and Vladimir Tarasenko.
During his career year in 2021-22, he scored 30 goals and 46 assists for 76 points in 73 games. His value and versatility in both even strength and special teams situations were major factors for his success. When he was in New York, he never reached 50 points in a season, but he also only played over 70 games once in five seasons. The Blues’ power play finished second in the league last season, and Buchnevich was a big part of that. He scored a career-high 19 points on the man advantage.
|Season||Goals Per Game||Assists Per Game||Points Per Game||Shots Per Game|
Source: Hockey Reference
As the table above shows, the numbers are up across the board for Buchnevich over the last three seasons. He’s been more aggressive with the puck and has taken advantage of ample opportunity with the Blues’ offensive prowess. None of this is a knock on the Rangers, they’ve been tremendous without him, but he’s fit like a glove in St. Louis. It’s also fair to point out that the Rangers went through a short-term rebuild and missed the playoffs in three of his five seasons there. Either way, Buchnevich has turned into a star with the Blues and there are multiple reasons for that without any of them being a knock on the Rangers.
A Lost Season for Sammy Blais
I was always fond of Sammy Blais and his ability on the ice. He played a major role in the Blues’ hard-hitting success en route to a Stanley Cup title in 2019. He was a part of the trade for Buchnevich, as he went to the Rangers along with a 2022 second-round pick in the deal. The second-round pick became defenseman Elias Salomonsson after the pick was traded from the Rangers to the Winnipeg Jets for Andrew Copp during the trade deadline last season. The 2021-22 season was a lost cause for Blais after he tore his ACL just 14 games into the season.
Blais tallied four assists in 14 games before the injury last season and he recorded more ice time than he ever did with the Blues on average. He remains day-to-day with an upper-body injury for the start of the 2022-23 season, but he should be back with the Rangers soon. He’s bound to play a valuable bottom-six role for the Rangers with his size and hitting ability. The Rangers’ decision to trade Buchnevich was never about getting an equal player in return. It was much more about clearing the way for their top picks like Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere. They also decided to keep Chris Kreider around long-term, which definitely put Buchnevich in an odd spot.
Both Teams Still Finding Success
While the Blues are reaping the benefits of this deal, it certainly hasn’t hurt the Rangers. Buchnevich is far and away the best player in this trade and it’s not close, but that doesn’t make it a failure for the loser of the deal. Last season, without Buchnevich, the Rangers were led by elite goaltender Igor Shesterkin to a 110-point season and trip to the Eastern Conference Final. The Blues have gotten a lot out of Buchnevich and their offense would not have been as high level without him in 2021-22.
Related: Blues’ Pavel Buchnevich is Proving His Value in Multiple Ways
I hope Blais can get back on the ice and find success, as he was always a fun player to have in St. Louis. As for Buchnevich, he has three years left on the extension he signed with the Blues before last season. He should feel even more comfortable in his second season with the Blues, it’s going to be fun to watch. The bottom line of this trade is that the Blues won the deal, but the Rangers didn’t get hurt from it whatsoever, it’s been fine for both sides.