It’s still going to be another two years before there’s any chance that Detroit Red Wings fans will be seeing forward Dmitry Buchelnikov on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. Back home in Russia, though, there’s big buzz about Buchelnikov. It centers around how his game is continuing to grow by leaps and bounds.
The Russian website Sport-Express.ru recently ranked the top-30 junior aged players from the country. Buchelnikov, Detroit’s 52nd overall selection in the 2022 NHL entry draft, was earning the No. 3 rating on this list.
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“Dmitry Buchelnikov as a child was never considered a talent of the first magnitude,” writes Ivan Bohun, noting that Buchelnikov was actually dropped from the Traktor Chelyabinsk U16 squad during the 2018-19 season.
“Fortunately, a nimble player with excellent speed and excellent stickhandling was soon seen in the St. Petersburg Bulldogs, and a little later in the SKA system.”
Buchelnikov Blossoms in World U18 Tourney
It was while playing for Russia in Texas at the IIF World U18 Championship in 2021 that Buchelnikov was first gaining any sort of international attention. He would score for the Russians in the game against Canada.
“(Buchelnikov) managed to stay in the spotlight, even as a player of the lower links,” Bohun notes.
Last season, playing for SKA-1946 St. Petersburg in the MHL, the Russian U20 league, Buchelnikov was No. 2 in the scoring race. In 56 games, he was producing 41-34-75 totals. At the urging of Detroit’s Russian-based European scout Nikolai Vakourov, the Red Wings took a reach by grabbing Buchelnikov well ahead of where he was listing on the NHL Central Scouting charts.
The early returns are indicating this could be a roll of the dice that comes up a winner. Playing for SKA in the preseason Sochi Tournament, Buchelnikov was earning honors as the top forward in the event.
When regular season play began, Buchelnikov, 19, was starting out back in the MHL. However, after collecting 4-5-9 numbers in three games, SKA official were reaching a decision to promote the 5-foot-9, 150-pound left-winger to SKA-Neva St. Petersburg of the VHL, Russia’s Second Division. SKA also was signing him to a contract extension through 2025.
In the Russian second tier, he’s showing 14-11-25 numbers through 24 games. That’s good for second on the team. It’s also leading all U20 players in the VHL.
As well, he was getting his first taste of the KHL with SKA this season. So far, he’s been good for 1-1-2 totals in 10 games.