Pavel Buchnevich

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Rangers’ losing streak continues with OT defeat vs. Penguins

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The New York Rangers needed a win.

Their slow start is among the surprises early this season, as the Rangers have now lost four in a row with only one win to their record through seven games so far. They’ve had trouble scoring. Mistakes at inopportune moments have been costly.

Facing the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday, the Rangers had a brutal start and a brutal finish in a 5-4 overtime loss to their Metropolitan Division foes.

Phil Kessel scored just 43 seconds into the game, utilizing that dangerous wrist shot off the rush to beat Henrik Lundqvist top corner. By the end of one period, it was 2-0 Pittsburgh.

Despite a second-period comeback, with three goals in under three minutes, and taking the lead in the third period, the Rangers couldn’t hang on and the Penguins won in overtime.

Sidney Crosby scored a crafty tying goal with only 56 seconds remaining in regulation, waiting for the Rangers defender to touch the puck negating what would’ve likely been called a hand pass on Pittsburgh before firing a no-look backhander toward the net from behind the red line. The puck deflected in off Lundqvist, helping send this one to overtime.

Evgeni Malkin capped off a four-point night with the overtime winner.

“Right now it’s a little bit challenging as far as putting a whole game together for us,” said Rangers coach Alain Vigneault following the game. “But this group is very accountable … and I’m very confident that if we keep doing a lot of the things we’re doing right now, we’re going to be on the right track.”

A trio of Rangers recorded their first goals of the season. That included David Desharnais, Michael Grabner and Pavel Buchnevich, although the latter played less than 10 minutes on Tuesday, despite nearly four minutes in power play time, and of course the goal.

The Rangers host the New York Islanders on Thursday. Another loss, and one has to wonder how hot the seat may be getting under Vigneault.

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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Let’s look at Rangers’ contracts after Zibanejad signing

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The New York Rangers are no strangers to big off-season (and trade deadline) changes, and this summer has been no different.

Phew, that’s quite the series of changes, and it’s not necessarily covering every single facet.

So, that leaves us with some questions: what are the Rangers left with, and what does the future look like beyond 2017-18?

Spending on players in their own zone

When checking out the Rangers’ salary structure at Cap Friendly, it’s clear that the Rangers’ long-term commitments lie in Henrik Lundqvist ($8.5 million cap hit through 2020-21) and the defense in front of him.

Shattenkirk, 28, is the highest-paid blueliner of the bunch … at least for now.

His $6.65M cap hit is more manageable than some anticipated, particularly since the term isn’t too risky at four years. Shattenkirk, Marc Staal (30 years old, $5.7M), and Brendan Smith (28, $4.35M) all see their contracts expire after the 2020-21 season.

Shattenkirk may not be the most expensive Rangers defensemen for too long, as Ryan McDonagh is due for a raise quite soon. The 28-year-old’s $4.7M cap hit is a bargain, but his deal runs out after 2018-19. McDonagh would hit unrestricted free agency if the Rangers can’t figure something out there.

As mentioned before, the Rangers are trying to shake Holden’s $1.65M cap hit (a deal that only runs through 2017-18), but either way, he likely won’t be part of the mix for long. Brady Skjei, on the other hand, stands as an especially intriguing consideration. His rookie deal expires after next season, and with it that $925K cap hit. It will be intriguing to see how much he gets, and when the Rangers aim to sign him (as they technically could do that now if they’d like).

Staal’s $5.7M is a problem, especially going forward. Otherwise, the Rangers seem to be spending their money reasonably wisely on the blueline.

The goalies behind that defense should be fascinating to watch, as Pavelec has plenty to prove after years of Raanta giving Lundqvist very valuable breaks.

Uncertainty beyond Zibanejad?

It’s one thing to have three defensemen locked down for at least three seasons; it’s another to see that the Rangers only have three forwards with at least three years of term remaining.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, yet it’s a bit of an eyebrow-raiser for a team that once made a lot of shaky bets on long-term deals for scorers.

Right now, these are the three Rangers forwards who are signed through 2019-20 or later:

Zibanejad: 24, $5.35M, expires after 2021-22 (would be UFA)
Chris Kreider: 26, $4.625M, expires after 2019-20 (UFA)
Jesper Fast: 25, $1.85M, expires after 2019-20 (UFA)

Those deals are good-to-great, and the best news is that those players are in the thick of their primes.

It’s fascinating to note some of the decisions that are looming, though.

After a long stretch of being a trade rumor magnet, Rick Nash, 33, will see his $7.8M cap hit evaporate after 2017-18. That could come in handy as the Rangers will see noteworthy forwards (and also Skjei) like J.T. Miller, Kevin Hayes, and Jimmy Vesey become RFAs. Desharnais is slated to be a UFA, and most importantly, Michael Grabner is too … and will almost certainly command a significant raise from his dirt-cheap $1.65M.

Some interesting deals only have two years remaining, including Mats Zuccarello‘s $4.5M and Pavel Buchnevich‘s ELC.

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All things considered, the Rangers are in pretty good shape. It’s up to GM Jeff Gorton to keep it that way.

Nash plans to return to Rangers next season

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Rick Nash is under contract through 2018, and says he wants to stay in New York.

But questions surrounding his future don’t seem to be going away.

With many predicting significant changes coming to the Rangers following their playoff exit to Ottawa, Nash confirmed his desire to stay in the Big Apple during Thursday’s end-of-year media availability.

“I plan on being here, I plan on being a Ranger,” Nash said, per WFAN 660. “As a player, you can’t control that. You’ve got to leave that up to management.

“I love being a Ranger.”

More: Changes needed for Rangers, but which ones to choose?

The 32-year-old is heading into the last of a monster eight-year, $62.4 million deal with a $7.8 million average annual cap hit. He has a modified no-trade clause — Nash can submit a 12-team trade list — and the Post has already floated him as a potential trade deadline rental for next season.

But one wonders if Nash will see the writing on the wall. It certainly sounds like he has, to some degree.

He, like many other Rangers, lamented how the current group blew a good opportunity, losing to a seemingly beatable Ottawa team. And this was the latest in a series of missed chances. New York has been to the playoffs every year in the Nash era and had some good success — one Cup Final appearance, three Eastern Conference finals — but never won it all.

Last year it was a first-round exit and this year, a second. The reality of the window closing is setting in.

“For me, it’s disappointing when you have a team that’s this good and an opportunity like we did,” Nash said on Tuesday, per the Post. “You only get so many cracks at this.”

Nash also surely knows that GM Jeff Gorton will probably continue to make his roster younger, and faster. This started last summer with the Derick Brassard-for-Mika Zibanejad trade, the acquisition of Jimmy Vesey and the growth of roles for Brady Skjei and Pavel Buchnevich.

If Gorton wants to continue down that path, some longtime Rangers could be in play.

Glass could replace Buchnevich for Rangers

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Alain Vigneault wouldn’t say for sure, but don’t be surprised if Tanner Glass replaces Pavel Buchnevich in the Rangers’ lineup tonight in New York.

The first clue was Buchnevich’s ice time Saturday in Ottawa — just 5:46 in a game that went to double overtime. Buchnevich, the 22-year-old rookie winger, didn’t play at all in sudden death. The game ended with Jean-Gabriel Pageau‘s fourth goal of the contest, giving the Senators a 6-5 victory and a 2-0 lead in the series.

The second clue came at this morning’s “extras skate.” Tanner Glass left it early, while Buchnevich stayed on.

Glass hasn’t played since Game 3 of the Rangers’ first-round series against Montreal. He was replaced by Buchnevich for the final three games (all New York wins), and he remained out of the lineup for the first two games in Ottawa (both losses).

If Glass plays tonight, his coach will know what to expect from the physical veteran.

“When Tanner played, there was no surprise to his game and what he brings to our lineup,” said Vigneault. “If he plays, he plays a certain way.”

As for Buchnevich’s ice time on Saturday, Vigneault said that had more to do with the other Rangers players than anything else.

“In the last game in Ottawa, I felt we had nine, 10 guys that I thought were playing real well,” he said. “I gave them the minutes and I thought they had some good looks and played a real strong game. Just ended up on the wrong side of the win column.”

Buchnevich wasn’t the only Rangers forward to get benched in overtime. Fourth-line center Oscar Lindberg didn’t see the ice either.

Rangers sign KHL d-man Bereglazov

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New York added some defensive depth on Friday, agreeing to terms with Russian blueliner Alexei Bereglazov.

Bereglazov, 23, has spent the last few seasons with KHL club Metallurg Magnitogorsk, including a ’16-17 campaign in which he scored 19 points in 60 games. He led all d-men aged 24 or younger in assists, with 18.

Despite being passed over at the draft, Bereglazov had a good junior career, highlighted by capturing bronze for Russia at the 2014 World Juniors. He finished with two points in seven games in the tourney, playing alongside the likes of Andrei Vasilevskiy, Nikita Zadorov, Mikhail Grigorenko, Ivan Barbashev and his new Rangers teammate, Pavel Buchnevich.

It’ll be interesting to see where he fits in New York next season. The club has seven blueliners under contract — Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Klein, Nick Holden, Brady Skjei and Steve Kampfer — with Brendan Smith a pending UFA, and Adam Clendening a pending RFA.