Pavel Buchnevich is the 10th ranked European skater coming into the 2013 NHL Entry Level Draft. He's a highly skilled left wing with an extreme amount of potential, but enough drawbacks to his game that could make him a risky pick. This profile will take a look at whether the positives to his game outweigh the risks to taking him with the Devils second round pick at 39th overall.
Who is Pavel Buchnevich?
The 18-year-old left wing comes in at 6'1" and 161 lbs. His size is just one of the reasons to be skeptical about taking the skilled forward in the draft this June. After missing the first half of the season with an injury, Buchnevich did not have the best showing in 2012-2013. He scored just one goal for the Severstal Cherepovets in the KHL in twelve games and eight goals for the Almaz Cherepovets in the MHL (Minor Hockey Leauge in Russia). After a less than stellar showing during the regular season, Buchnevich found his game with the Russian U18 team scoring five goals and six assists in seven games played at the World Championships.
Along with needing to bulk up his smaller frame, Buchnevich also needs to work on certain aspects of his game. His coach in the KHL notes his need to work on his off ice training. While he is always eager to get on the ice, he doesn't show that same desire when training. It has also been noted that he needs to work on the defensive aspects of his game. While he has great vision and playmaking ability, he can be a liability on defense at times.
On the plus side, Buchnevich has the potential to be a very special player. He has an extremely impressive skill set. He was considered to be the best player on his team in the MHL and was part of the second Russian team to ever win the World U17 Hockey Challenge in Canada - the first was in 2000 when Ilya Kovalchuk participated. He has been compared to other Russian players such as Tarasenko, Yakupov, and Grigorenko. Like them, he is a speedy winger with great skating ability, natural talent, and is smart on the ice.
Another reason teams may be nervous to draft Buchnevich is because he currently has a three-year contract in the KHL. This has been a reason for some players to drop drastically in the draft no matter how talented they may be.
What experts are saying about Pavel Buchnevich:
Former coach Andrei Nazarov speaks fondly of Buchnevich's game, but isn't shy to note the work he will have to put in to have success,
"Buchnevich had a good season, but it was not excellent. He had a great desire to go on ice, but he didn't work enough for it in training. Desire is not enough to start playing. Let's hope that Pavel will understand it. I think that he has to play better than (Valeri) Nichushkin."
"He had injury problems during the fall while playing with Cherepovets in the KHL. But he's a classic Russian winger with speed and talent; an excellent skater and very smart. He's full of surprises."
Valri Bragi who invited Buchnevich to play in his "Grad Prix of St. Petersburg" tournament see's infinite potential in his game if he stays focused,
"Buchnevich have all chances to grow into a great master and the most important for him is to continue developing without being distracted by extraneous things."
Kyle Woodlief of USA Today understands the negatives to Buchnevich's game, but can't help but be impressed with how he performs,
"Pavel Buchnevich is another who shone brightly before the home crowds. He might be physically undeveloped and indifferent to off-ice training, but wow, does he have a high-end skill set."
To get a better idea of how talented Pavel Buchnevich is, take a look at some highlights. The kid has skill that is tough to overlook even when the negatives above are noted. Here is a video of his 2012-2013 season including his time in the KHL, MHL, and the U18 WC in Sochi.
Pavel Buchnevich Павел Бучневич - 2012-13 Season HIghlights (via hockeysemin)
When I first read up on him, I was confident Pavel Buchnevich was not the guy for the Devils to take 39th. It wasn't until I saw video of Buchnevich play that I became unsure. He has high-end talent and his potential is through the roof. With that said, his work ethic and KHL contract are big red flags.
I still don't think New Jersey should take Buchnevich with the 39th overall pick. If he drops down to later rounds in the draft, it wouldn't be as big of a risk. With such a deep draft class, there should be other players available with a lot of potential who less of a risk.
What do you think of Pavel Buchnevich? Do you think the risk of taking him with the Devils second round pick is worth it due to his skill? Where do you think he will be drafted? Feel free to discuss your thoughts on Buchnevich in the comments secion below. Thanks for reading!