After the Rangers were ousted from the playoffs by the Pittsburgh Penguins in five games, head coach Alain Vigneault said the team needed more dynamic players.
On Friday, they reeled in a blue-chip prospect that could be the first step in that direction.
After deciding to play overseas for one more year last summer, Russian forward Pavel Buchnevich and the Rangers agreed to terms on a three-year, entry-level contract, worth $925,000 per season, two people familiar with the negotiations said.
Buchnevich, a skilled, quick winger who was selected 75th overall in the 2013 draft and turned 21 last month, is expected to come to New York and train here this summer with the expectation that he will make the team out of training camp. In interviews last summer, Buchnevich, who speaks very little English, said he hoped to make the Rangers roster right away and not play in the AHL.
Listed at 6-2 and 175 pounds, Buchnevich had 16 goals and 37 points last season, which was divided between Severstal Cherepovets and St. Petersburg. After the playoffs, he had bursa sac surgery on his left elbow, which required a two-to-three week rehabilitation.
In 158 regular-season KHL games, Buchnevich had 37 goals and 50 assists. In the Russian junior league, he had 23 goals and 69 points in 71 regular season games and scored an eye-opening 17 goals and 41 points in 31 playoff games.
Buchnevich may be just the first of the youngsters to contribute next season. Danish left wing Nicklas Jensen, 23, who came from Vancouver in a trade for Emerson Etem, was impressive in AHL Hartford, with 15 goals and 25 points in 41 games. On Friday, he scored a goal and added the game-winner in a shootout for Denmark against Latvia in the IIHF World Championships.