Hours before the 2021 NHL Draft, the New York Rangers executed an already controversial trade that sent excellent wing Pavel Buchnevich to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for forward Sammy Blais and a 2022 2nd-round pick.

Buchnevich, 26, is a pending restricted free agent, as is 25-year old Blais (he's arbitration-eligible). Buchnevich posted 48 points in 54 games in 2020-21 and should see a handsome raise.

Blais played the last two seasons on a deal that paid him $1.5 million AAV. St. Louis drafted him in the 6th round (No. 176 overall) in 2016. In 2020-21, scored 15 points in 36 games.

The trade gives the Rangers breathing room on the payroll but it doesn't make the team better on the ice. Buchnevich is easily the best player in the swap.


A chorus of Rangers fans quickly tweeted their displeasure with the trade, which is not going to help the New York make the playoffs next season, barring some nifty future transactions.

Buchnevich, a 3rd-round pick in 2013 (No. 75 overall) posted 195 points in 301 games in New York.

With the trade, New York joined one of its rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers, by angering its fanbase with a draft-day move. Earlier on Friday, the Flyers sent a massive haul — the No. 13 overall pick in the '21 draft, a second-rounder in 2023, and defensemen Robert Hagg — to the league-worst Buffalo Sabres for their 26-year old defensemen, Rasmus Ristolainen.

The 2021 NHL Draft begins at 8 p.m. ET on Friday, July 23, and runs through Saturday.