The Nine

Pavel Buchnevich ‘jumping out’ to Rangers as hype grows

In the 56-game NHL season that begins on Thursday for the Rangers, quick starts will be of the essence.

Pavel Buchnevich, despite how he has started off seasons in the past, has plans to play a big part in that.

“I always have a slow start, an up-and-down time,” Buchnevich said Sunday night after the team held a three-period intrasquad scrimmage. “I just want to get ready right away.”

If the Rangers winger’s training camp performance is any indication, he may be ready to pick up where he left off down the stretch last season, when he played some of the strongest hockey of his career.

“The guy that’s kind of jumping out to all of us is Buchnevich,” coach David Quinn said. “Obviously, he had a real good second half last year. This is the best camp he’s had since I’ve been here. I loved the way he played in the scrimmage [Thursday] night, I just love the way things are going for him. He and I have had long conversations about what his abilities are and we certainly know what he’s capable of doing. I’m excited for the fact that it looks like he’s got a chance to maximize his potential for a full season as opposed to just half.”

Buchnevich, who had another sharp scrimmage Sunday, finished the regular season last year with 10 goals and 14 assists over his final 28 games after starting the season with six goals and 16 assists in his first 40 games. He thrived on the top line alongside Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider and picked up the slack late when Kreider went down with a broken foot.

That line was together for the first time in training camp Sunday for a morning skate before the scrimmage, as Zibanejad works his way back from a delayed start, but that threesome is set to stay together to open this season, which provides an added comfort for Buchnevich.

“I’ve played probably half of my career in the NHL with these two guys,” Buchnevich said. “We have fun together. We just have to work hard for each other. [We were] clicking at the end of the regular season before the shutdown. I think we’ll be fine. Just need to get going right away, not wait like 40 games.”

While Quinn tabbed Buchnevich as a player who could take his game to the next level this season, the 25-year-old Russian said he is less focused on points and more focused on where the team can go.

“I just want my team to make the playoffs,” Buchnevich said. “I don’t [care about] the points or that stuff, lately I just want to help my team win the games and make the playoffs. That’s it.”

Buchnevich, who is entering the final year of his contract, attributed his late-season surge last year to being prepared for every game and understanding his body better. He has shown signs of continuing that strong play in training camp, even trying his hand on the penalty kill during Sunday’s scrimmage and doing “a really good job,” Quinn said.

“He continues to get better and better,” Quinn said. “He continues to grow. … I really just like his attitude and his approach to training camp.”

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