In the midst of a fast and furious opening day of free agency, the Montreal Canadiens announced the signing of Mikhail Sergahev to a three-year entry-level contract. The value of the contract is unknown right now, but it is expected the be the full 925,000 limit.
Mikhail Sergachev was selected ninth overall in last week’s 2016 NHL Entry Draft. Sergachev is the youngest ever winner of the OHL’s Defenceman of the Year Award. Sergachev’s high-end offensive game was continually lauded by the Trevor Timmins and Marc Bergevin, and rightfully so: The rookie defender found twine 17 times and racked up 57 points overall.
Here’s an excerpt on Sergachev from Profiling the Canadiens 2016 Draft Picks:
Sergachev’s high-end skill is immediately noticeable. An elite skater, Sergachev’s explosive power generation quickly transitions into a smooth stride with elite top-end speed. A uniquely agile player, Sergachev’s edge work propels his skating ability to the upper echelon of defenders.
The high-end skating ability allows Sergachev to explode off the blue line regularly. He loves challenging forecheckers or exploiting open ice to walk deeper into the offensive zone, giving him a vast array of options. A true scoring threat from the point, Sergachev can overwhelm goalies with booming power one shot, then feather a shot through traffic the next. Perhaps Sergachev doesn’t shoot as much as he should, which is a scary thought considering his 17 goals this season.
Sergachev is also fabulous puck distributor, who runs the powerplay with ease. He methodically dishes the puck to create lanes. After he activates off the blue line, his ability to find teammates resembles a playmaking forward. His pinches rarely go poorly, pointing to excellent decision-making. With hands that rival many of the top forward prospects in the 2016 draft class, Sergachev is a complete offensive threat.
In transition, few defenders are as effective. Sergachev’s vision can shred apart teams, but even more special is his puck rushing ability. He’s poised under pressure, allowing him to suck a forechecker then leave him in the dust as he fakes and dekes his way up the ice. A true master of the carry-out zone exit and carry-in zone entry.
Without the puck, Sergachev makes great reads and quality decisions. He’s quite good with his stick, which makes him a difficult defender to beat one-on-one. Well-balanced and powerful, Sergachev makes sure his opponents feel it with hard body checks and physicality. Gets his stick in lanes well, and doesn’t hesitate to block shots.
Sergachev is the crown jewel of the Montreal Canadiens prospect pool. The 6’2″ 220-lbs defender could make the NHL as soon as this upcoming season. He’s certainly physically ready, although if he’s actually ready for the NHL will become clearer during training camp and pre-season.
If Sergachev does go back to junior, he will be an integral part the Windsor Spitfires, who are expected to be among the OHL’s best teams, if not the best. Windsor, the hosts of the Memorial Cup, will have high expectations, and losing Sergachev to the NHL could be a massive hit to their hopes.
Either way, Sergachev could be a huge piece of the Montreal Canadiens in the not-so-distant future.