When Montreal took Mikhail Sergachev ninth overall at the draft, few figured he’d have a shot of making the team this year.
Sergachev, however, was not one of those people.
“Obviously it’s better if I stay here and play for Montreal,” Sergachev said, per NHL.com. “Because I want to play as soon as possible.”
The second defenseman off the board in Buffalo — OHL London’s Olli Juolevi was the first, at No. 5 to Vancouver — Sergachev is considered a major longshot to stick in the NHL this fall.
But his eye-popping efforts at prospects camp seems to have opened the door — ever so slightly.
The 18-year-old wowed onlookers with his skill set and puck control abilities, and finished the scrimmage portion with three goals. Praise for Sergachev quickly carried over to social media, where folks began wondering if he had a shot of cracking the opening night roster.
Exciting stuff, sure. But still a major uphill battle.
For one, Sergachev is still 18 years old. While he’s got NHL-caliber size — 6-foot-2, 221 pounds — he’s played strictly junior hockey over the last two years, first in Russia’s MHL and with OHL Windsor last season.
The Montreal blueline is also pretty deep. Eight guys — Shea Weber, Andrei Markov, Jeff Petry, Alexei Emelin, Nathan Beaulieu, Greg Pateryn, Mark Barberio and Zach Redmond — are under contract for next season, with prospects like ’15 first-rounder Noah Juulsen still in the system.
Al that said, it’s clear Montreal is high on Sergachev.
GM Marc Bergevin wasted little time inking him to an entry-level deal, and the club felt fortunate that Sergachev was available with the ninth overall selection.
Now, he’s ready to try and make his mark immediately, rather than wait for the future.
“I’m going to do everything I can to make the Canadiens but if I don’t I’ll go back to Windsor,” Sergachev said, per the Gazette. “We’ll have a good team there and we have a chance to win the Memorial Cup.”