2021-22 Team: Guelph Storm (#4)
Date of Birth: Apr 25, 2004
Place of Birth: Markham, ON, Canada
Ht: 6-foot Wt: 185 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 30th (amongst North American Skaters)
- Peter Baracchini’s May Rankings: 81st
- Andrew Forbes’ March Rankings: 75th
- Bob McKenzie’s Rankings: 58th
- Craig Button’s Rankings: 39th
The Guelph Storm entered the new season full of promise. With top prospects on their roster in Danny Zhilkin and Matthew Poitras, the future certainly was looking up for them. Couple that with some experience coming back and you had a team looking to make a statement. After a 1-3-1 start, the Storm got things rolling.
Related: THW 2022 NHL Draft Guide
This was highlighted by a two-game sweep of the London Knights in December by scores of 4-0 and 4-1. The Storm went on to finish fifth in the OHL’s Western Conference. However they were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs by the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds. Ultimately their youth caught up to them.
But along the way, a third prospect started to make a name for himself. He entered his draft season as an OHL rookie like several of his peers. But he didn’t wait to make an impact by recording six assists in his first five OHL games. Michael Buchinger was starting to show everyone why he was a high draft pick in the 2020 OHL Priority Selection.
In watching multiple games of Buchinger live, the first thing that jumps out is his skating. He was constantly able to get to where he needed to be in order to make or disrupt a play. He was able to cover large stretches of ice with an effortless stride. If he was out of position, his skating and lateral movement rescued him.
Then when the puck was on his stick, Buchinger went to work trying to create offense. He’s good at making the correct read and then making sure the puck gets to its intended target. But he isn’t afraid to shoot the puck and will when given the chance. He is also an excellent option on the power play as evidenced by his 2-17-19 line on the man advantage. He finished the season with 5-39-44 in 63 games.
Where Buchinger really shines is his work ethic. Whether it was chasing down a loose puck or his willingness to engage his opponents, very few players on the ice worked harder than Buchinger. It seemed every time there was an important play in a game, he was in the middle of it making something happen.
Buchinger is a little undersized at just 6-foot. He does depend on his skating and mobility. As with most prospects at this stage, he needs to add muscle to his frame. He also needs to understand the balance of when to attack versus when to stay back. He’s constantly thinking offense which will lead to some occasional cheating from his defensive responsibilities.
Overall, whoever drafts Buchinger will get someone who is a relentless worker that does several things well. He is primed to provide good value to teams who wait until the middle rounds to address adding defensive depth.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Michael Buchinger — NHL Draft Projection
Buchinger falls into the next tier of defensemen available at this draft. His overall toolkit makes him an attractive option within the top-96 especially for teams looking to take advantage of the defensive depth this draft offers.
“Consistent player that plays a solid two-way game every night. Excellent skater with speed and
mobility in all directions. Competes hard and plays physical. Smart defender that uses positioning
and a great stick to his advantage. Smart puck mover that is decisive and makes the right play quickly. He has playmaking ability from the back end. Used on both special teams and can be relied on in
all crucial game situations. The type of defenceman you want on your team and know you are going
to get a winning effort from every night.” -NHL Central Scouting
“Buchinger is a strong two-way defenseman who is good under pressure at both ends of the ice. His skating stands out to me the most out of his overall game, where he holds a steady pace and is often quick to the puck to make a play.” –Olivia Mcarter, Future Considerations
“Buchinger is a smooth skating two-way defender. His mobility is a plus as he has great movement east to west, pivoting to skating backwards, great edgework and an ability to turn on a dime. However, I believe he needs to work on his first few steps. He can lead the breakout with his skating or a first pass, but that added speed would give him an edge.” –Dominic Tiano, OHL Writers
“Highly effective snuffing out zone entries, defending with some edge and transitioning the puck up ice with clean, crisp passes. Super competitive player who challenges the opposition from the offensive zone blue line right back to his own net front.” –Sam Cosentino, Sportsnet
“If you’re looking for a defenseman in this draft, it’s a good year to be doing it. There are a lot of big guys, a lot of right-shot players with offensive upside for first-round options. In the second and third rounds, you’re going to see a lot of variety, too, including offensive dynamos like Lane Hutson, Ty Nelson and Michael Buchinger, just to name a few.” –Chris Peters, Daily Faceoff
- Always thinking offense
- Transition passing
- Highly competitive
- Smart/making quick decisions
Under Construction — Improvements to Make
- Physical play
- Size and strength
- Can look to use his shot more
Buchinger’s skating and high hockey IQ make him a good bet to get to the NHL. His upside depends on how much stronger he gets. At this point, it’s reasonable to believe he can become a bottom-four defenseman who can contribute on both the power play and penalty kill at the next level.
Risk — 3.5/5, Reward — 3.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense — 7.5/10, Defense — 6/10
Buchinger became the first Storm player to be named OHL Rookie of the Month in 15 seasons when he was named both defensemen and rookie of the month in February 2022. Buchinger also participated in the CHL Top Prospects Game.
Michael Buchinger Statistics
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I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2022-23 season will mark nine seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager. Please take note of the updated Twitter handle: @mark_scheig.