Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2013 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical draft profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Sports is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! For a Complete Listing of all our 2013 Draft Articles Click here.
As we reach the late 2nd round, the dreaded “Russian Factor” or KHL Factor rears its ugly head again with our latest prospect. For those who haven’t been reading all of my profiles (Why Not?), you can see my feelings on the Russian Factor and what it means, and what it doesn’t mean, by checking out the profile on Valeri Nichushkin.
In Buchnevich’s case, the KHL is definetely a factor as he has two years remaining in a contract with Severstal Cherepovets and such the matter becomes complicated. With no transfer agreement in place, it is unlikely any NHL team should expect Buchnevich before the 2015-16 season. However this is a player who would be a first round talent if no such issues existed, so he might be worth the gamble and worth the wait where I’ve ranked him, late in the second round. He’s spent half the season in the KHL, and half the season playing for Cherepovets team in the MHL (Russia’s developmental league).
Buchnevich was very impressive at this spring’s IIHF Under 18 World Championships where his 11 points in 7 games left him tied for second in scoring. Unfortunately it was not enough for the host Russian team as they would leave Sochi without a medal. Buchnevich was also impressive at February’s Five Nations (U18) tournament where he put up 7 points in 4 game. He was a member of the Russian team which won gold at the 2012 World Under 17 Hockey Challenge.
Left Wing/Right Wing/Centre
Born Apr 17 1995 — Cherepovets, RUS
Height 6’1.5″ — Weight 176.7 lbs – Shoots Left
Buchnevich is a terrific skater. He has very fast top end speed, excellent acceleration and great first step quickness. This makes him extremely dangerous off the rush, and he is not afraid to go wide on a defenceman and then cut to the net. He also has great agility, and good balance on his skates. Buchnevich could stand to add some weight to his frame but even with that, his balance and strength on the puck is good at the Under 18 level. It will need to be much better though for the pro game.
Buchnevich is able to play all three forward positions which is a major plus for any prospect. He’s a pure sniper, with a fantastic wrist shot and snap shot. They are both powerful, accurate, and feature quick releases. He also has a very good one timer. Buchnevich is often able to force defenders to give him space due to his skating and it as at this point he can unleash is shot on the rush. He has good stickhandling skills and protects the puck very well. He’s not afraid to go through traffic and take the puck right to the net in order to get chances. Buchnevich is a skilled playmaker as well, he is very creative and is willing to try things that most players wouldn’t have the skill level to dream about. He also is willing to work hard in the corners and digging for loose pucks.
Buchnevich’s defensive game is best termed a work in progress. He can often looked lost in the defensive zone as his positioning and fundamentals need a lot of work. He seems willing enough, but will need some major help in coaching before he can be a pro player.
Stylistically Buchnevich is similar to a Phil Kessel. However this is a stylistic comparison and not saying that he will become as good as Kessel is. Instead Buchnevich is a prospect with serious boom or bust potential. The upside to be a first line NHL goal scorer, (whatvever the position) is there, but the KHL factor and the defensive game may make Buchnevich fall in the ranks.
Check back tomorrow for another NHL draft feature.
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Photo Credit: IIHF.com,