“Even before the start of the 2022/2023 season, Dmitry Buchelnikov was one of the main contenders for a breakthrough among young KHL players,” writes Anton Vasyatin on KHL.ru.
Buchelniknov, 19, is a left-winger with SKA St. Petersburg. He saw action in 10 games for the club last season but eight of those appearaances came in September, during the first month of the KHL regular-season campaign. Buchelnikov was accounting for one goal during that span.
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He spent the majority of last season with SKA’s junior squad and also with the club’s farm team playing in the Russian second division. However, the experts figure that one way or another, Buchelnikov will be playing his trade in the KHL this season.
“The next logical stage of a career should be the KHL, and on an ongoing basis,” Vasyatin notes. “Regardless of whether it happens in SKA or in another club (if the leadership of the army team prefers a lease).
Buchelnikov is skating on SKA’s fourth line in KHL preseason lay, admits speculation that he is going to be sent on loan to fellow KHL club Sochi HC. Matvei Michkov, the top pick of the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2023 NHL entry draft, spent last season on loan from SKA to Sochi.
Buchelnikov Competition Could Come From Within
Buchelnikov is one of 10 players earning a spot among the KHL rookie of the year contenders. If there’s a favorite for the award, it’s probably his SKA teammate Ivan Demidov. Only 17, Demidov is already lining up with SKA’s No. 2 forward unit. He’ll be a lottery pick in the 2024 NHL entry draft.
That doesn’t mean that Buchelnikov won’t also enjoy a strong campaign. He’s been a star at the junior level. Last season, he was collecting 28 points in 35 games with SKA-Neva in the VHL, Russia’s second tier of pro hockey.
“There is every chance that Buchelnikov will succeed,” Vasyatin writes. “Adaptation in adult hockey has already turned out to be painless. (Buchelnikov is an) agile winger with the potential to score over 20 KHL goals in a season in the near future.”