Buchnevich, 26, is set to become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights coming off a three-year deal carrying a $925,000 cap hit. He scored 20 goals and recorded a career high 48 points in 54 games last season. The forward also added penalty killing duties in 2020-21, playing 125:28 on the unit after a little over six minutes total in his first four NHL seasons.
With Vitali Kravtsov and Kaapo Kakko making strides on the right side, and Buchnevich due a raise, it made sense for general manager Chris Drury to make the deal. Salary cap space will be needed with Igor Shesterkin an RFA this summer, Adam Fox an RFA in 2022, and their interest in acquiring Jack Eichel from the Sabres.
Blais spent his first four NHL season in St. Louis, scoring 17 times in 119 games. He was part of their 2019 Stanley Cup title-winning team playing 15 games that postseason. He has one year left on his deal and is eligible to be an RFA next summer. He was most-recently exposed to Seattle in the NHL Expansion Draft, but the Kraken went for defenseman Vince Dunn from the Blues.
Along with the addition of Barclay Goodrow, Drury has begun changing the look of the Rangers’ bottom-six. Meanwhile, Blues GM Doug Armstrong, once Buchnevich is signed, adds some scoring punch and help on the penalty kill as we wait to see where Vladimir Tarasenko will land in a trade.