Pavel Buchnevich’s first NHL season got off to a bit of a rocky start. After just two games, a case of back spasms sidelined the New York Rangers’ rookie for five contests. Upon his return, he was playing well but his first NHL goal seemed to be eluding him.
Finally, he lit the lamp against Boston on Nov. 5, creating a date that he will remember (remember) forever. That tally opened the floodgates for the 21-year-old winger, as he proceeded to score goals in each of his next three games.
Unfortunately, that run of success was short-lived for Buchnevich, as his back spasms apparently flared up again, and have kept him out of the lineup since Nov. 12.
More Than Just Back Spasms?
When the Rangers scratched Buchnevich just before the start of their game in Edmonton on Nov. 13, the situation was certainly unexpected, but there was a prevailing sense that it was just a minor, day-to-day issue, even with the unsettling notion that a 21-year-old should not be experiencing recurring back problems.
Then head coach Alain Vigneault broke some worrisome news on Saturday.
AV said Buchnevich “wasn’t feeling the way we expected.” Will be looked at by docs. Adds this could “be more than just back spasms.” #NYR
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) November 19, 2016
I’m not a doctor, but there now seems to be the possibility that Buchnevich’s back spasms might be a symptom of a larger problem. What that problem might be is anyone’s guess at this point. Is the NHL experience having an adverse effect on Buchnevich physically? It doesn’t seem that that would be the case, given that he came to the Rangers with experience in the KHL, which is often considered the second-best league in the world – but the whole situation is shrouded in mystery.
At this point, it is unknown when or how any origin of Buchnevich’s ailments occurred, but the Rangers and then their fans will hopefully find out what is going on soon.
Implications for Rangers
While the Rangers undoubtedly would like to see Buchnevich back on the ice as soon as possible, especially since he was forced out of the lineup in the midst of a four-game goal-scoring streak, the most important thing is his health, particularly in the long term. If he has to miss more time to fix the issue now so that he is healthy and productive later, then that is the action the Rangers need to take.
For a team that has not had a plethora of its own prospects to develop, seeing one of its most promising young players battle through injuries this early in his career is concerning and unfortunate. On the bright side though, the Rangers are doing the right thing by adhering to due diligence to make sure they know exactly what is going on with Buchnevich, and to ensure that he is healthy for the long haul.
In the meantime, while “Buch” is sidelined, the Rangers thankfully have enough forward depth to cover for his absence. They will need to continue to get contributions from all four lines, and even without Buchnevich, that should still be realistic.