Player: Pavel Buchnevich
Drafted By: New York Rangers (75th overall)
Final Central Scout Ranking: No. 10 European skater
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 176 lbs
DOB: April 17, 1995 (18 years old)
Most Recent Affiliation: KHL, Cherepovets Severstal
The book on Buchnevich is that he has the talent to be a first-round pick, but because he can be lazy at times and stayed in Russia, he is likely to fall to the second or even third round.
The stats don’t really do Buchnevich justice. He had one goal and an assist in 12 games for Cherepovets, but to be fair, he was a teenager playing in a men’s league that employs some of the best hockey players in the world.
Full Scouting Report
When people speak of “The Russian Factor,” they are basically telling you this: If a Russian player chooses to play in one of the three Canadian major junior leagues, he wants to play in the NHL; if he stays home and plays in the KHL, as Buchnevich has, he probably is going to stay there and never play for the NHL club that drafts him.
Obviously, scouts and team brass do not like to see talented players dog it, but that can be overlooked if they are convinced he will eventually wear the team’s sweater and be productive at the NHL level. It is much more costly to choose a player that has no desire to play in the NHL. Therefore, Buchnevich might get drafted lower than his talent level says he should this year.
Having said that, Buchnevich’s perceived laziness has turned off many decision-makers in the industry.
“His defensive play and positioning is almost nonexistent,” writes The Hockey Writers’ Shawn Reznik. “His effort every shift is up in the air and only seems to care when he has the puck on his stick in the offensive zone. He’s a player a GM might throw a mid-to-late round pick on him to see if he pans out.”
In short, somebody will bite because he is so talented.
“He has high-end puck possession skills, with top-of-the-line hands and hockey sense,” writes Corey Pronman of Hockey Prospectus. “He shows good offensive instincts, standing out through his reads and creative decisions.”
NHL Player Comparison
Nikolay Zherdev, formerly of the Philadelphia Flyers. I use Zherdev here because he has the talent to be in the NHL right now (No. 4 overall pick from 2003) and at 28 is still in his prime. However, he is in the KHL now because he can play closer to home and never performed to his skill level in North America.
If Buchnevich reaches the NHL, it will be three to four years from now. He needs to work on his defensive game, improve his work ethic and improve enough offensively so that he can be a threat at the game’s highest level. At the earliest, he will crack an NHL roster during the 2015-16 season.
Without a doubt, he has the potential to be a top-six forward. It will come down to how much he is willing to improve his offensive game and the effort he gives every night.