Before the 2013 NHL Draft in which the Rangers ultimately selected Pavel Buchnevich in the third round, Buchnevich had a draft stock that can only be defined by one word, fluctuating. Buchnevich was predicted to drop deep into the middle rounds of the draft by some. Others pinned Buchnevich as a middle first rounder with the ability to come into an organization within three years and become an NHL playmaker. The latter seems to be the case in his situation.
Buchnevich has been playing high-level hockey in Russia since a teenager, playing at age 16 in the Molodezhnaya Hokkeinaya Liga, loosely translated into the top junior ice hockey league in Russia. Buchnevich has climbed the ladders of European hockey, landing in the KHL as a teenager. Buchnevich didn’t disappoint in his time with KHL clubs Severstal Cherepovets and SKA Saint Petersburg, contributing 37 goals and 50 assists in 158 games over a four-season span.
Not only has Buchnevich played well in the KHL, Buchnevich has been an important part of multiple International teams, contributing 33 points in 33 games playing in tournaments including the U-20 World Juniors, even carrying the alternate captain role in the 2014-15 tournament around multiple other extremely talented players, scoring a goal and assisting on five others over a seven-game span.
Very few players come into the NHL with this much experience playing at this high of a level at 21. Buchnevich just happened to play in the second best league in the world for four seasons. Buchnevich is the future of the New York Rangers organization. In one of the weaker prospect pools in the Eastern Conference, Buchnevich is noted as one of the best NHL ready prospects by far for a multitude of reasons.
Not only is Buchnevich a great skater, he’s got a wonderful ability to open up the ice with or without the puck, which is one of his greatest strengths. Buchnevich has a wicked shot and wonderful hands that will likely help ease the transition to the NHL level. He possesses an uncanny ability to squeak the puck through a goalie’s five-hole and has no issue raising the puck while moving fast near the net which is something many veteran NHL players struggle mightily at.
Realistic Statistical Expectations
The sky is the limit for Buchnevich, but expecting him to come in and be a 60 point scorer is simply unrealistic. The best guess for Buchnevich this upcoming season would be something like 17 goals and 22 assists on a line with Jimmy Vesey and Kevin Hayes. Not many teams in the NHL have a third line that can rival Vesey, Hayes, and Buchnevich. If these three can catch on, this line could be very dominant, possessing a great mixture of speed, strength, and ability to score.
The thing Rangers fans need to keep in mind is that Buchnevich is picking up and leaving one league with a lot more open ice and noticeably less talented than the NHL. If he can adapt quickly to having less open ice to work with, Buchnevich could be a sleeper candidate to compete for the Calder.
I’m a college student at Robert Morris University. I’ll be covering everything Rangers as well as some gaming news as it comes out! Follow me on twitter at THWDonovan!