Mikhail Sergachev was part of one of the biggest trades during the NHL off-season. The deal saw the Montreal Canadiens trade Sergachev and a second-round pick to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Jonathan Drouin and a conditional sixth-round pick.
This deal made sense for both sides, as the Canadiens needed offense, meanwhile the Lightning had cap issues and couldn’t keep all their young talent.
Tampa chose to re-sign Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat and had to trade Drouin to free up cap space. Through the process, they got an excellent young prospect in Mikhail Sergachev in return, and as a bonus he is still on his entry level contract.
Coming into the new NHL season, there were questions whether Sergachev would become a full-time NHL player in 2017/18. However, his early play has earned him a spot in the NHL, as confirmed by Lightning head coach Jon Cooper in an interview just prior to Tuesday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes.
When asked about Mikhail Sergachev, Jon Cooper said
“The 19-year-old isn’t going anywhere, playing in his tenth game to trigger the first year of his entry-level contract.”
Cooper went on further to say:
” When you watch a player like that continue to improve, especially at a young age, looking at the ceiling he has, which is really high right now, it’s pretty hard to make a change. He’s had a positive impact on our team. He’s a part of a team, and that’s how it’s going to be moving forward.”
Mikhail Sergachev’s play so far
In his first ten NHL games with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Mikhail Sergachev has scored four goals and five assists for nine points. He also had his first multi-goal game and career game-winner against the Columbus Blue Jackets last Thursday.
Part of Sergachev’s success is due to the Tampa Bay coaching staff easing him into the lineup.
He is only averaging around 12 minutes of ice-time a game and is playing sheltered minutes. He is getting easier defensive assignments and is playing alongside one of the best defensive defensemen (Anton Stralman) in the game.
Adding all these factors together, Sergachev is in the perfect environment to adapt to the NHL. So far he has been doing just that and has fit in seamlessly on a high-octane Tampa Bay Lightning team.
He is still trying to adjust to the speed at the NHL level, and has made mistakes with the puck. All that is understandable from a player with less than 20 games of NHL experience.
Overall, Sergachev has been a positive impact on the team and looks to be a special player for the Tampa Bay Lightning soon.
What this means for the Tampa Bay Lightning
Obviously it is too early to say who won the trade but things are looking good for the Tampa Bay Lightning early on.
General manager Steve Yzerman made a shrewd move to trade away an offensive talent in Jonathan Drouin, but it appears to be paying off early in the 2017/18 NHL season.
They have placed Sergachev in an ideal developmental situation and it has helped him adjust to the NHL gracefully.
Playing with elite scorers like Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos also helps the young Russian grow his confidence and offensive game every night.
Sergachev is also playing behind one of the best two-way defenseman (Victor Hedman) in the game and is getting invaluable hands-on experiences by watching him up close.
All things seem in place for Sergachev to continue to get better as the season progresses. The same probably couldn’t be said, if Sergachev were still in Montreal right now.
Sergachev’s impact going forward
Sergachev was a highly touted prospect coming out of junior and the Montreal Canadiens took him as the ninth overall pick in the 2016 NHL entry draft.
He has potential to be a number one defenseman one day.
Although, he is only 19-years-old and given the situation he is in now, the young Russian has plenty of potential to take massive steps forward in the next few years.
If Sergachev pans out, the Tampa Bay Lightning might have two elite defensemen in Hedman and Sergachev anchoring their blueline for years to come.
We only got a small sample size of his play so far, but Sergachev has already shown us a glimpse of his offensive ability. This will go a long way in helping the Lightning win close games as they don’t have a lot of scoring from their back end outside of Victor Hedman.
If Sergachev can become a major contributor to the Tampa Bay Lightning down the stretch, then one has to like their chances of winning a Stanley Cup soon.
What do you think of Mikhail Sergachev’s play so far? Has he impressed you? Let us know in the comment section below and be sure to vote in the poll.
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