After letting Valentin Zykov pass through to the Edmonton Oilers earlier this week, the Los Angeles Kings were not going to watch another talented young forward go unclaimed. The Kings have claimed Nikita Scherbak off waivers from the Montreal Canadiens.
This is the second high draft pick the Canadiens have lost on waivers this season, following Detroit’s claim of Jacob de La Rose earlier in the year. Scherbak was selected 26th overall in 2014, after exploding onto the CHL scene as a rookie for the Saksatoon Blades. His minor league career was also quite successful, but the 22-year old forward was unable to crack the Montreal lineup on a regular basis and faced injury this season. The Canadiens did try to trade the young forward, but with their obvious roster crunch approaching teams likely just waited them out.
For the Kings, this is a worthwhile gamble given the performance of their own forward group this season. Los Angeles ranks easily last in the NHL in scoring with just 56 goals through 26 games, an amazing 47 fewer than the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning. While their goaltending and defensive play has been good enough to keep them from being shelled on a nightly basis, expecting to win while averaging just over two goals a game is impossible. Scherbak doesn’t offer a guaranteed upgrade to that group, but at least has a healthy dose of potential left in him and could just be waiting for an opportunity.
CapFriendly reports that Scherbak will remain on injured reserve for the time being, but the Kings will likely try to get him into the lineup as soon as possible. A restricted free agent at year’s end, he should get every chance to prove he can be a useful contributor going forward, deserved of a new contract.