The top-NHL-draft-pick-has-slow-start-in-junior slump–it happens every season. In every case there’s a plausible explanation, such as the player is getting readjusted the CHL grind after a whirlwind summer.
The slump’s latest victim is Mikhail Sergachev, who has tallied just three points through seven games.
But there’s no reason to be concerned, here are three reasons why:
(1) Slumps happen to all players, even the best players.
Remember Alex Galchenyuk? Now you know him as the number one centre of the Montreal Canadiens. But do you remember the widespread panic after he tallied just three points in four games to kick off his Draft+1 season? Perhaps more memorable was his incredible 61-point half-OHL-season as precursor to an admirable NHL rookie year.
Just like any other player, Sergachev has ups and downs. During his 57-point campaign last year, Sergachev had three separate three-points-in-seven-games stretches and tallied just eight points in his first 19 games.
(2) Sergachev’s return has coincided with a rough patch for the Windsor Spitfires.
The Spitfires are sporting a 4-0-3 record over that span, with their goalscoring falling from 3.57/GP to 3.29/GP. Even more noticeable has been the dramatic tumble in powerplay percentage from a league-leading 32.3% to just 20%.
(3) He hasn’t played much hockey lately.
Through the first five games, Sergachev was underwhelming. Sergachev was playing solid defence, apart from the odd mistake, but wasn’t pushing the pace of the game. He was slow on pucks, missing passes, and struggling to hit the net. He looked out of sync, as expected for a player who participated in a handful of games in October.
There’s good news: Friday’s game against the Sarnia Sting marked a step in the right direction, and Sunday’s matchup versus the London Knights saw Sergachev in fine form.
He was arguably the best defenceman for either side in one of the best rivalries in hockey. It was a bone-crushing hit on fellow top 2016 NHL Draft pick Olli Juolevi that made the highlight reel, but it was his all-around play that made him so effective.
Sergachev shone by asserting tight gap control before the Knights could cross the blue line, preventing zone entries. Limiting time on defence meant Sergachev spent more time on offence. Sergachev’s unique ability to create passing lanes was on full display. While Sergachev missed the net a few times, he sent three powerful shots on goal. Overall, it was easily his best game of the season.
If Mikhail Sergachev’s woeful production continues through December, then there’s reason for concern.
As of right now, there’s nothing out of ordinary.