I believe at this point that Pavel Buchnevich will be traded before July 28th, I'm not sure to whom, or for what, but after yesterday's media conference with General Manager Chris Drury, I think it'll happen. I'll be disappointed, I like what he's evolved into as a player, but I don't run the Rangers.
The primary reason of course is the contract. Buchnevich is up for a new one following the completion of his previous two year deal worth $3.25M AAV. A career year, and possible UFA status next season, not to mention arbitration rights, give Buchnevich and his agent a lot of leverage in this negotiation. I figure his next contract is probably going to be in the 5-6 years at $6-$6.5M range.
With contracts or replacements needed for the likes of Adam Fox, Igor Shesterkin, Kaapo Kakko, Filip Chytil, Mika Zibanejad and others - not to mention adding that grind/grit that is needed - the Rangers are going to eat up that $23M of Cap space pretty quickly.
So when Chris Drury said the following:
It made it feel almost like a certainty. He was quite happy to talk about, albeit indirectly, the status of Barclay Goodrow's negotiations, but when it came to Buchnnevich he went with the non-answer. It makes sense of course, just like we saw last October with Ryan Strome, you may end up keeping him. At the very least it tells us that Drury is seriously considering moving him.
Not that it's much of a surprise. It's been on the radar for some time, even prompting Ray Capineello to write this a week ago.
Trading Buchnevich is going to leave a whole for sure. His game progressed substantially this past season, to the point he was leading the team offensively for much of the first two months, as well as adding top pair PK time. The problem is that his contract price is probably going to exceed his value to a team that already has a couple of bloated contracts - think Chris Kreider and Jacob Trouba - and likely more to come.
I'll miss him, and I think his progress will continue, particularly over the next three seasons. I can see him hitting 30 goals and 60 points, but on a team that looks like it'll have enough offense from the other team members, he'll be too expensive. Espeically if the Rangers do keep both Kakko and Vitali Kravtsov.