Another Spectacular Season for Nikita Scherbak
It was a dominant start to the 2014-2015 campaign for Nikita Scherbak. The 26th overall selection in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft went pointless just three times in his first 35 games, piling up 19 goals and 34 assists in the process. He recorded three points in his Silvertips debut, tallied in his first WHL hat trick, and reached 150 career points. Once again, Scherbak led his team in scoring by a notable margin, and was among the league leaders in team point percentage (as shown below).
|**Statistics courtesy of CHLStats.com**||Points||PPG||eP/60||TmPt%||eTOI||NHLe|
|Rank on Team||1st||1st||1st||1st||1st||–|
However, Scherbak’s production took a hit in the second half and continued into the playoffs. In the final 41 games (regular season + playoffs combined), he recorded 37 points. The dramatic drop in production didn’t necessarily reflect Scherbak’s play, as the dynamic winger continued to excel on the ice. Perhaps the greatest concern was his lack of goalscoring in the second half. During his torrential start, Scherbak was a goalscoring threat from just about anywhere on the ice. Always known more as playmaker, this development was encouraging, but it almost all but disappeared as the season wore on. He still scored some wonderful goals, but he wasn’t scoring or shooting at the same volume.
With that said, Scherbak certainly did in prove in certain areas, even if he improved his career-high by just four points. Kevin Constantine’s demanding system forced Scherbak to play both ends of the ice, and the result was a greatly improve defensive effort. Furthermore, Scherbak engaged in physical play more consistently and improved his body positioning, particularly along the boards.
Still, Scherbak needs to be a North-South threat more often. He’s a tremendous East-West player, which is a fabulous asset, but in the professional ranks he must be more willing to play the “power game.” At his best, Scherbak combines the control of the speed of the game, as well as the excellent vision and stickhandling you’d expect from a skilled East-West player, with the speed, strength, and determination of a powerful North-South player. While that Scherbak made an appearance at more games than last year, his consistency remains the biggest question mark.
Scherbak will certainly be joining the professional ranks next season. It’s a question of whether or not it will be in St. John’s or Montreal. There are many great aspects of Scherbak that make him a potential fit on Montreal—he’s a lethal combination of skill, size, and speed. However, it seems likely that he will need some seasoning in the AHL. Montreal has plenty of bodies up front, and Sven Andrighetto and Charles Hudon both have legitimate shots of making the big club as well.