Road To North America: Pavel Buchnevich Continues To Impress

Alex Nunn gives us the latest roundup of New York Rangers European prospects.

Pavel Buchnevich

Buchnevich has been particularly impressive either side of the international break, posting 10 points in 13 games. He's a player that can dominate shifts and now that his on-ice partnership with line-mate Nikolai Kazakovtsev is blossoming we're really getting a good look at what the Russian can do.

His two-goal, three-point game against Atlant on Saturday was undoubtedly his best of the season. Buchnevich added a pretty backhand finish after opening his account for the night on a first-period penalty shot. He fought off two defenseman on a breakaway but was eventually hooked from behind.

As I've said before, Buchnevich is a player that uses his body far more than people seem to realise. He'll make a tough play to create a scoring chance and he's adept at putting away the garbage in and around the crease. The Atlant game is a perfect example of his willingness to work, particularly his strong play to assist Evgeni Kovyrshin late in the third.

Right now he's in a groove, confident and skating solid minutes with consistent line-mates. He leads the team in shots, has 12 points in 26 games and is standing out on this Severstal roster at the age of 18. One thing that does please me, perhaps more than anything where Buchnevich is concerned, is that he doesn't let his head drop. He competes and stays focused. His offensive qualities are doing the rest.

It is worth noting that Severstal have recently announced the signing of Nikolai Zherdev for the rest of this season. We'll see how that effects things on - and off - the ice. - Buchnevich's two-goal game v Atlant.

Calle Andersson

Andersson has continued to be consistent in Sweden since returning from injury. Malmö have had a pretty light schedule of late so the defenseman has skated in a couple of J20 games. He scored the overtime game-winner, his second goal of the game, against HV71 last weekend.

At this point I still consider scoreboard contributions a bonus from Andersson. He has offensive upside and that'll come to a greater extent in time, but for now his bread and butter is solid defense and strong play in his own end.
He's bounced around defensive pairings due to injuries on the Malmö blueline and his powerplay time has been all over the place, but his play in the games I've watched has always been consistent. You can't teach size and smarts, both of which Andersson has.

Thomas Spelling

Spelling isn't quite dominating in the manner I think people would hope for this season, but he's putting points on the board. He isn't always a first-unit option on the powerplay and his second-line minutes keep him behind SønderjyskE's established forwards in terms of ice-time, so his PPG+ pace isn't that disappointing.

Inconsistency is probably the biggest frustration with Spelling at the moment. He has a habit of dominating games and his shot count is always high, but if the puck isn't going in then he does tend to disappear from view. He's a goalscorer, but his play isn't offering much else right now.

SønderjyskE, the AL-Bank Ligaen champions, are winning games and scoring for fun. Spelling isn't standing out as much as I'm sure we'd all like, but he's very much a part of their early-season success and he'lll continue to put pucks in the net as the season progresses.