Mikhail Sergachev was selected in the first round, ninth overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft by the Montreal Canadiens. Sergachev has impressed all particularly since his performance at the Canadiens rookie camp in London, Ontario. At 6-feet-3-inches and 216 pounds, he is already pro-sized and plays with the poise of a NHL defenceman.
In my opinion, Sergachev is the most dominate defenceman to play in the Ontario Hockey League in quite some time. Last season, many considered him the best all-around player in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). That is saying something when you consider the level of talent in the league. But analysts gushed at his combination of size, skill and hockey sense.
Sergachev was originally drafted sixth overall in the CHL import draft by the Windsor Spitfires. The native of Nizhekamsk, Russia barely spoke English when arrived on the scene with the Spitfires, and contemplated going home as he became homesick.
Some strong convincing by the Spitfires staff helped him adjust off the ice and by the end of the season, he was speaking English fluently and fitting in. There was never a doubt about his ability on the ice, as he recorded 57 points in 67 games last season.
Following the NHL Entry Draft, the Canadiens wasted no time signing their first round pick to a three-year entry-level contract.
This season, following a strong showing at training camp and during the pre-season, Sergachev started this season as a member of the storied franchise. He appeared in three games. While he did not record a point, he was a very respectable plus-1 averaging 10 minutes of ice-time per game.
His time with Montreal was a great boost to his already elite-level talent, by proving to himself that he could compete at arguably the toughest position against the top players in the world. His return to the Spitfires was a great move by Marc Bergevin, as he will be able to develop at an accelerated rate with the Memorial Cup host. Playing only 27 games to date, he leads all Spitfires defenceman in scoring.
Sergachev is best described as having elite NHL-level skating ability and when you watch him, it appears effortless. He is the complete defenceman in every aspect with top level hockey sense, along with world class vision. He is also blessed with an explosive burst when he sees the opportunity to exploit an open lane.
His hands are among the best in junior hockey and has the talent to dominate a game. Additionally, Sergachev uses his size in his own end and willingly plays the physical game to separate opposing forwards from the puck. He never panics when moving the puck, whether it is a first pass or carrying the puck up-ice.
Montreal fans will be very happy in the next year or two when he becomes a regular on the Habs blueline. The type of player like Sergachev doesn’t come along often, and he will be a special player and a dominate force from the back-end in the NHL for many years to come.