Sergey Tolchinsky is an enigma, but one commonly found among Russian players. The young forward has loads of talent and ability, but for some reason struggled to put it all together at the pro level in North America. Likely frustrated by the disconnect between his skill and his production over three years with the Carolina Hurricanes organization, Tolchinsky signed a try-out deal back in June with CSKA Moscow of the KHL, the parent club of his former junior team. Today, the league announced that Tolchinsky has earned a roster spot, signing a one-year contract with CSKA.
Tolchinsky, 23, may not be entirely done with the NHL, but at the very least he won’t be suiting up in 2018-19. However, a comeback can never be ruled out for player with so much natural talent who has previously shown a commitment to the North American game. Although undersized at 5’8″ and 170 pounds, Tolchinsky has proven to be a very capable scorer, albeit streaky in the AHL. Tolchinsky made the trek across the Atlantic early in his development, joining the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in 2012-13 after being selected 12th overall in the CHL Import Draft. In his first North American junior season, the then-17-year-old notched 51 points in 62 games, outscoring teammates like Jared McCann, Darnell Nurse, and Tyler Gaudet. Yet, Tolchinsky went undrafted in 2013. The Hurricanes were quick to jump on the free agent, inking him to an entry-level deal, although he played two more years for the Greyhounds. Tolchinsky led Soo in scoring in each of those seasons, amassing 186 points in 127 games. He entered the pro ranks with high expectations, but struggled to score at the same rate, finishing his first campaign with the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers with 36 points in 72 games and a -16 rating. With point totals and games played totals even lower than that in each of the past two seasons since, Tolchinsky simply couldn’t replicate his success in the AHL. Although he managed to contribute a pair of assists in four games with the Hurricanes, his inconsistency in Charlotte prevented any full-time promotion and the disgruntled Russian did not see any NHL action in 2017-18.
Now, Tolchinsky looks re-establish himself back home in Russia. There has never been a question of how skilled the young winger is, but rather can he put it all together. Skating for a CSKA squad that has been almost dynastic in its success this decade, he stands a good chance of producing plentiful points and boosting his image. Tolchinsky will be re-united with Hurricanes teammate Klas Dahlbeck and will also call the likes of Mikhail Grigorenko, Linden Vey, Jannik Hansen, Sergey Kalinin, Anton Slepyshev, Kirill Kaprizov, Nikita Nesterov, Alexey Marchenko, and Ilya Sorokin his teammates. Moscow looks to be dominant again this season and Tolchinsky will be one of many members of the team keeping an eye out for NHL offers next off-season. The Hurricanes chose not to qualify Tolchinsky, a restricted free agent, after he chose to sign with CSKA, meaning he is free to sign with any NHL team when his new contract in the KHL expires.