Why The Rangers Top Prospect Was Not in Training Camp

The moment Rangers fans and hockey fans have been waiting for is only a few days away. The puck will drop on the 2015-2016 NHL season in just a couple days as the preseason has come to an end, and teams begin to focus on preparing for their first opponents of the season.

For the New York Rangers, the team had a few young players step up and make the roster out of training camp. Highly regarded 23-year-old Oscar Lindberg was excellent in the preseason and bruising 6’5 defenseman Dylan McIlrath got the nod over veteran Swiss blueliner Raphael Diaz as the team’s seventh defenseman.

As expected, Brady Skjei will start the year logging top pairing ice time at the AHL level. However, this team has a highly regarded offensive prospect that was not present in training camp or preseason. That player is Pavel Buchnevich who was beginning his third KHL season.

Pavel Buchnevich The Hockey Player

Buchnevich was the Rangers third round pick (75th overall) in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. He is a left wing with good speed, hands and hockey sense. He is listed on the New York Rangers website at 6’1 and 176 pounds. This suggests he can still put on muscle and get stronger before he makes the jump to the National Hockey League.

In his first full KHL season in 2013-2014, Buchnevich tallied 18 points in 40 games. In his sophomore season last year, he put up 13 goals, 17, assists and 30 points in 48 games. A strong showing in two World Junior Championships only furthers his case as a top prospect. The young Russian has 13 points in 14 career World Juniors Contests, suggesting he is a top-end talent for his age.

Back in January 2015 NHL Network Analyst and TSN’s Craig Button released a list of his top 30 NHL-affiliated prospects, and Buchnevich was the only New York Rangers prospect to appear on the list. Button ranked Buchnevich at number 22 and then went on to have high praise for him on the Rangers Blue Line Podcast according to the Sports Net New York Rangers blog.

             “He has size, he can think, he can skate and he is a competitor. Every time I have watched Pavel the last four years, the bigger the game, the harder the situation, the better he has been. He fits really nicely and is a high end talent.”

When Will We See Him in New York?

Buchnevich’s arrival in New York has been delayed for several reasons: depth at forward, the language barrier and Buchnevich deciding to develop his game some more before leaving family and friends to come to North America.

As the Rangers begin the 2015-2016 season and look to the future, their current group of prospects are not highly regarded as very deep compared to other teams. This should come as no surprise as the Rangers have only picked once in the first round since 2012.

The time for New York to win is within the next three seasons in my opinion. Is it possible that Buchnevich could help them do so? His play will be closely watched this year by the Rangers organization and an NHL debut in 2016-2017 is very much possible.