Lightning: Sergachev’s Truly Reaching His Potential

Heading into the 2019-20 season, the Tampa Bay Lightning had high expectations for Mikhail Sergachev. After showing glimpses of greatness throughout his first two years with Tampa Bay, the Lightning knew that it was time for him to take that next step in his career.

Mikhail Sergachev, Tampa Bay Lightning
Entering his third season with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Mikhail Sergachev had big expectations for what he could contribute to the franchise’s blue line. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

As the Lightning approach the All-Star break, this provides a perfect opportunity to see how Sergachev has been performing this season. So, has he been able to live up to the lofty expectations placed upon him, or has he had a slow start to his third season in Tampa Bay?

Sergachev’s Increasing Ice Time in 2019-20

After losing veteran defensemen like Anton Stralman and Dan Girardi in the 2019 offseason, there was a clear gap on the Lightning’s blue line for a player like Sergachev to step into. This has allowed the Russian defenseman to take on a bigger role, increasing his ice time from roughly 18 minutes each night in 2018-19 to more than 19 minutes in 2019-20.

With that additional playing time, Sergachev has upped his scoring output, posting 7 goals and 23 points in 44 games. Also, his power-play ice time has increased a meaningful amount, allowing him to top his previous seasons’ scoring totals while on the man advantage.

Related: Lightning Larceny: Revisiting Sergachev for Drouin Trade

If he continues to put up points at his current pace, Sergachev will easily top his scoring totals from 2018-19 and reach the double digits in goals for the first time in his career. If he has a particularly strong second half of the season, then he may be able to break 40 points for the second time in his career.

How Sergachev’s Stepping up on the Blue Line

The biggest improvement to Sergachev’s game this season hasn’t been on offense, however. Throughout 2019-20, he has rounded out his overall game with a noticeable improvement on defense. So far, Sergachev has a Fenwick and Corsi For of above 55 percent, which are career highs. He is also on pace to set a personal record for blocked shots, hits, and takeaways.

What’s noticeably different is how Sergachev is more willing to play the body. Throughout the season, he has stood tall at the blue line, throwing his opponents off balance while creating turnovers in the process.

Joel Eriksson Ek, Mikhail Sergachev
One major improvement to Sergachev’s overall game has been his ability to lay down timely hits that disrupt his opposition while opening up new scoring opportunities. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

So, while his scoring totals may be impressive for a player his age, these defensive improvements are making him into a more well-rounded player. If this development continues, he could become that top-flight defenseman that the Lightning traded Drouin for back in 2017.

Sergachev’s Everything the Lightning Hoped For

Perhaps the best thing that has been said about Sergachev in 2019-20 was from the RotoWire Staff over at CBS Sports:

Sergachev is seeing time on both special teams and developing into the type of top-pairing rock the Canadiens, his former team, only wish they had alongside Shea Weber.

At only 21 years old, Sergachev is already rounding into one of the best players for the Lightning. If this continues, he could become one of the best defensemen not just for the franchise, but across the entire NHL.