I think we can all agree that St. Louis hasn’t had the best offseason this year. Arguably, one of the worst summers that GM Doug Armstrong has had in his 12 year tenure in STL. Whether it’s the contracts that were signed, the defensive need that is still there, or not trading for Matthew Tkachuk. It definitely has not been the best. So why not take a rewind to a little over a year ago? Let’s re-visit one of the best trades that Army has made.
In the summer of 2021, New York Rangers GM Chris Drury, who had only been at that position for a month at the time, saw that his team was going to need to make a move to be compliant with the cap. Pavel Buchnevich, who had 20 goals and a career high 48 points during the 2021 COVID shortened season, was a pending RFA and looking to sign long term for a lot of money. Drury had to decide to either keep Buchnevich and move someone else or trade Buchnevich while his value was rising and let the other team deal with the contract. He chose the latter.
On July 23rd 2021, just five days before the start of free agency, the Blues acquired Buchnevich from the Rangers for forward Sammy Blais along with a 2022 2nd round draft pick. At the time, this looked like an incredible trade for Armstrong and the Blues, who desperately needed scoring after getting swept by Colorado in the first round of the playoffs. Four days later, Buchnevich signed a four year, $23,200,000 extension with St. Louis, locking him up for his prime.
Buchnevich followed up his career high in points during the 2021 season with an absolute offensive explosion during the 2021-22 season. Career highs in goals (30), assists (46), and points (76). It was an incredible season for Buchnevich. He helped reinvigorate fellow Russian, Vladimir Tarasenko who also had a career high in points. Buchnevich exceeded expectations to the highest degree. He was exactly the kind of player that the Blues needed, and he showed it. Buchnevich was also clearly a great teammate and formed an incredible bond with all of his peers as well as with the fans. There are not enough words to describe how great of a season he had. Buchnevich now has three years remaining on his bargain of a contract. He has a 12 team no-trade list for the final three seasons of the contract.
Blais, who of course won the Stanley Cup as a 4th liner with St. Louis in 2019, was part of the return to the Rangers. He unfortunately was only able to play 14 games during the 2021-22 season with New York before suffering a torn ACL in November that forced him out for the remainder of the season. In the 14 games he did play in, he had four assists. Blais was recently signed to a one year, $1,525,000 extension with the Rangers.
Also included in the return to New York was a 2022 2nd round draft pick. The Rangers did not draft anyone with this pick, they traded it to the Winnipeg Jets in a trade for forward Andrew Copp. The pick was used by the Jets, and they selected Elias Salomonsson from Sweden. The defenseman scored 11 goals and put up 11 assists for 22 points in 35 games for Skellefteå AIK J20 in Sweden.
Looking back a little over a year later really shows what a huge trade this was for GM Doug Armstrong and the Blues. Buchnevich was an incredible get for St. Louis when they desperately needed a player like him. His two-way ability was absolutely phenomenal during the 2021-22 season. Buchnevich is loved both analytically, and through the eye test. He’s become a huge fan favorite in St. Louis and had a huge effect on his teammates being able to produce so much. The trade and extension turned out to be an even bigger win for St. Louis than we expected. I for one, am very, very excited to have him locked up for the foreseeable future. This is 100% one of Doug Armstrong’s best trades he has ever made, and it’s only going to get better.