NHL draft: Russian defenseman Mikhail Sergachev hopes to play in NHL immediately

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BUFFALO, N.Y. — Mikhail Sergachev had quite the rookie campaign with the Windsor Spitfires in the Ontario Hockey League. 

The 6-foot-3, 206-pound defenseman scored 17 goals and 57 points to go along with 56 penalty minutes in 67 regular season games with the Spits. He added two goals and three assists in five postseason games. 

For his outstanding season, Sergachev was awarded the Max Kaminsky Trophy as the OHL’s top defenseman – the youngest player to ever receive the honor at just 17 years old. 

“I didn’t expect that, honestly,” Sergachev said at the recent NHL Scouting Combine. “I was bowling with my family when my social media guy texted me and said, ‘Hey I have good news for you’ and he just stopped texting me. I was like, ‘What’s going on? What’s the good news? You’ve got to tell me this’. 

“He called me afterward and told me, ‘You were named the best defenseman in the OHL.’ I didn’t expect that.” 

While playing in the OHL, Sergachev’s play caught the attention of Ottawa 67’s coach, and former NHL defenseman, Jeff Brown. Brown’s son, Logan, is a teammate of Sergachev’s in Windsor, which had the former NHLer paying close attention to Spitfires games this season. 

In watching Windsor, Brown saw a lot of himself in Sergachev’s game. 

“Just his hockey sense, he slows the play down and he doesn’t panic back there, plays with his head up and makes guys around him better,” Brown said. “At that age to do what he’s doing and have the poise that he has and the patience, he plays with his brain, he’s a smart hockey player.” 

Internationally, Sergachev represented Russia at both the 2015 and 2016 IIHF Under-18 World Championships. 

A native of Nizhnekamsk, Russia, Sergachev is known for his fluid skating and heavy shot from the point. With his skating, he’s able to lead end-to-end rushes with the puck and has the hockey sense to make good outlet passes.

On the defensive side of the game, he uses his stick well to take away passing lanes and is willing to battle in the corners. His poise with the puck makes him a threat at both ends of the ice.

One of the knocks on Sergachev is that he’s not overly punishing physically, despite his size.

ISS Hockey had Sergachev at 10th overall in its NHL draft guide and ranked him as the second-best blueliner for this week’s draft in Buffalo.

Meanwhile, NHL Central Scouting had him ranked eighth amongst North American skaters and the fourth-best defenseman available in its final rankings. 

“The big thing is he’s such a smooth-skating defenseman for his size, he’s got one of the best shots in his draft class and we feel out of the big three defensemen in this class, he probably has the best offensive upside,” director of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr said. “Another plus with him is he’s not far from playing. He’s already got the size and skill.”

He is projected to be a top-pairing defenseman who will contribute on both the penalty kill and power play.

With the Flyers selecting 18th overall on Friday, Sergachev would likely have to fall in order for them to grab him. 

Despite having just one season of OHL hockey under his belt, Sergachev, who tries to model his game after L.A. Kings’ blueliner Drew Doughty, is confident he’ll be ready for the NHL in October. 

“It depends on what the team wants,” he said. “After this summer, I will work hard, if I’m ready, why not?”

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