Pavel Buchnevich, seen here celebrating a goal, could have a strong finish to the NHL season after being called up by the New York Rangers from the AHL.
Deadline-week transactions, even minor ones, have been analyzed thoroughly.
The NHL season has entered the stretch drive when changes in the standings are scrutinized daily by serious hockey fans. Even casual fans are starting to sense that games are becoming increasingly significant.
Serious player injuries at this stage are often season-ending ones that necessitate callups now that the trade deadline has passed. That means players who have been toiling in the minors might get a chance to impress the management of their NHL teams and even increase their chances of being added to Stanley Cup playoff rosters.
We haven’t quite reached the point when collegiate seasons end and NHL teams sign NCAA players to their first pro contracts, but NHL squads have begun to ink undrafted free agents to increase their organizational depth and/or address inconvenient injuries.
With all that in mind, here’s a look at player transactions during the past several days and their impact on various prospects.
New York Rangers
LW Pavel Buchnevich recalled from Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL).
With wingers Jesper Fast (IR, separated shoulder) and Michael Grabner (day to day, hip) out of the lineup, the Rangers again promoted their top prospect. The dynamic 21-year-old totaled a promising 16 points in 27 games with the Rangers earlier in his NHL debut straight out of the KHL and earned his latest callup with three goals and two assists in four AHL games. Also in his favor, he’s been on the plus side in both leagues so far. Depending on his deployment (he scored a goal in 15:13 and got 3:32 of PP time in a 2-1 win Thursday over the Bruins while lining up with Mika Zibanejad and Rick Nash), he might be up to stay for the rest of the season, particularly since Grabner’s production has cooled recently. Buchnevich might have a strong finish to the NHL season.
LW Michael Raffl placed on IR (LBI)
C German Rubtsov signed to three-year, entry-level contract.
The quietly efficient if low-scoring Raffl is expected to miss the rest of the season. LW Travis Konecny is ready to return after missing nine games with an ankle sprain, which will help. Rubtsov, a two-way player drafted 22nd overall last year, will report to the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms after his junior season with Chicoutimi ends. He’s posted 21 points in only 15 QMJHL games with the Sagueneens after coming from Russia earlier this season. Rubtsov looks like a sure-fire NHLer, although his defensive responsibility could mitigate his offensive upside.
D Lucas Johansen signed to three-year, entry-level contract.
D Colby Williams signed to two-year, entry-level contract.
LW Mason Mitchell signed as undrafted free agent to two-year, entry-level contract.
The brother of Columbus center Ryan Johansen was Washington’s 28th overall pick in 2016. The 19-year-old blueliner has 37 points in 61 games as an assistant captain with Kelowna of the WHL and is second among the Rockets’ defensemen in goals, points, and assists.
D Ryan Mantha signed as free agent to three-year, entry-level contract.
Unable to reach agreement on a contract with the Rangers,