The St. Louis Blues quickly got to work with newcomer Pavel Buchnevich, agreeing to terms on a four-year, $23.2MM deal with the restricted free agent forward. The contract will carry an average annual value of $5.8MM, giving him quite the raise after an exceptional season.
This kind of cap hit is exactly why the New York Rangers traded Buchnevich recently, as they were never going to be able to afford a raise of that magnitude–at least not with the way they want to fill out the roster. The 26-year-old was eligible for salary arbitration and is coming off an outstanding offensive campaign that included 20 goals and 48 points in 54 games.
Over the last three seasons, in fact, Buchnevich has scored at an 82-game pace of 25 goals and 58 points, while also carrying a heavy load on the penalty kill. That kind of versatility, adding defensive value as well as offensive upside, is exactly what the Blues are looking for as they say goodbye to several of their other key forwards. Vladimir Tarasenko is expected to be traded, while Jaden Schwartz, Tyler Bozak, and Mike Hoffman are all pending unrestricted free agents. Buchnevich can slide into one of the top two lines to replace some of that outgoing talent while potentially even improving over the next few seasons.
This deal buys out four years of unrestricted free agency and takes Buchnevich through his age-30 season, a perfect window for the Blues to purchase as they look to contend for the Stanley Cup. If he works out and continues his high level of play they can extend him down the road, without ever really risking the decline phase on this contract. That was never really going to be the case in New York, where younger wingers were going to need playing time and extensions before long.