With the first round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft just two days away, we look at the top prospects available Friday night. Previously we took a look at Auston Matthews,Patrik Laine, Jesse Puljujarvi, Matthew Tkachuk and Pierre-Luc Dubois; next we’ll examine our first defenceman, Mikhail Sergachev.
Birthdate: June 25, 1998
Hometown: Nizhnekamsk, Russia
Weight: 220 lbs
After coming over from his native Russia to play in the OHL, Sergachev actually struggled in the first half, having trouble adjusting to his new surroundings. When he found that comfort level however, his play took off. Racking up 57 points in 67 games, Sergachev won the OHL’s award for top defenceman, only the second rookie in league history to do so (Bryan Berard in 1995).
The Spitfires ran into a strong Kitchener Rangers team in the playoffs and went down in five games, while Sergachev tallied five points. He was held scoreless in the Under-18s, as Russia went down to the eventual champion Finnish team in the first elimination round.
Windsor Spitfires: 67 GP, 17 goals, 40 assists, 57 points, 56 PIM, +15 rating
OHL Playoffs: 5 GP, 2 goals, 3 assists, 5 points, 8 PIM, -4 rating
U-18 WJC: 5 GP, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 points, 8 PIM, 0 rating
A beautiful skater, Sergachev glides around the ice with ease and transitions well from the offensive and defensive zones. He doesn’t get rattled with the puck on his stick in his own end, calmly moving it out of the zone and avoiding danger. With a well developed body, he uses it to it’s full advantage leveraging players off the puck or pinning them against the boards.
While his even-strength game is effective, it’s his point play when a man up that leaves scouts drooling. Sergachev is the prototypical quarterback, with slick passing skills and a booming slapshot from the blue line. He seems unbelievably calm out there despite his young age.
Sergachev normally looks like one of the best players on the ice, however some scouts have found that every now and again he seems a bit disinterested in the game and has been known to take a shift off. Now, this might be a problem going forward or it might just be that the OHL level isn’t providing a big enough challenge for him currently. If he’s to unlock what seems like endless potential in both ends of the ice, he has to improve his consistency and continue to play with his physical edge. As players get bigger, better and more experienced, he won’t be able to coast on his natural talent.
Projected Future Role
Top-pairing defenceman/Powerplay threat.
Sergachev is another young draftee, not turning 18 until Saturday, and isn’t eligible for the AHL next season (or the one after that). With the choice of the NHL or OHL, he’ll probably be headed back to the Spitfires next year, however there is a possibility with the right team and a strong summer he could break camp as an 18-year old rookie in 2016-17. Some clubs may fear he’ll take a step back even in just his second OHL season, if they believe he was already throwing away shifts because of disinterest this year.