6 PM: Elliotte Friedman said on the NHL Network that this was a trade about the “bigger picture” for the Rangers and them looking at their desire to add grit and their salary cap as it relates to new deals for Shesterkin, Fox, Zibanejad and the players coming off entry-level.
3:50 PM: The Rangers have traded Pavel Buchnevich to St. Louis for LW Sammy Blais and a 2022 Second Round pick.
Blais, 25, is 6-2, 205 and had 8 goals, 7 assists, and 103 hits last season in 36 games for St Louis.
In his career, he has 17 goals, 18 assists with 366 hits, and an average of 11:31 per game in 119 games.
Blais is signed through next season at $1.5 million and he will be an RFA after next year.
He was suspended two games in January for an illegal check to the head of Colorado’s Devon Toews.
Buchnevich is an RFA with arbitration rights and talks about an extension are expected after the weekend. (Johnston)
Adam Rotter: Well, more size, more grit and another Stanley Cup winner for the Rangers. He’s likely going to be on the Rangers fourth line as they rebuild their bottom-six. He’s not as accomplished as Barclay Goodrow, but he brings a lot of the same things and for $2 million less per year.
It stinks to lose Buchnevich as he finally found consistency and became an important two-way player, but it started to feel inevitable that he was going to be traded.
As for the trade, it was really hard to see how the Rangers were going to be able to extend Buchnevich and keep him past this season. It’s a preemptive salary dump for the Rangers. Did they get fair value for their first line RW? Probably not, but they get a second-round pick, fill a need/want on the fourth line and keep their cap flexibility. Unless Buchnevich was going to be included in a deal for a center this was the only kind of move that made sense. The Rangers want grittier players and rather than go out and spend $3 million-plus again they get one and a pick in exchange for a player that just wasn’t going to fit salary-wise. The other part of this deal is that it leaves the right side wide open for Kaapo Kakko and Vitali Kravtsov to lock in top-six spots. Alexei Lafreniere could also move to the right side, but in any event, the right side is open for the former first-round picks.
There just wasn’t going to be enough cap space to go around for Buchnevich. Mika Zibanejad is going to get a new deal, or Jack Eichel, Adam Fox is going to get a mega, and deserved extension, Igor Shesterkin needs a new contract now and all of the other young players will be coming up for new deals in the next year or two.