Russian Roulette: Montreal Selects Nikita Scherbak In The NHL Entry Draft

It was a season that ended much too quickly yet went on longer than anyone could have imagined last October. Was it ever an exhilarating ride for Habs fans from the big comeback against the Ottawa Senators, to welcoming Patrick Roy back to Montreal for the first time as the head coach of the Colorado Avalanche, the sweep of Tampa Bay and the grueling 7 game series against the Boston Bruins it was a season full of wonderful and memorable moments that soon won’t be forgotten. However, that was then and the next season is already in sights. With the first day of the draft having passed, the Montreal Canadiens used their first round pick to select Nikita Scherbak, adding him to an already strong core of Russian players with the organization.

From Russia With Love

Born in Moscow, Russia the young Nikita Scherbak has only spent a year in North America where he played for the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades. He lead all rookies in the WHL in scoring as he put up 28 goals and 50 assists for 78 points. He appeared to come out of nowhere but at 6’1 and 175 pounds and still growing, he continues to add to the upfront size deficiency that Montreal’s forwards have suffered with throughout recent times. He joins a star studded cast of players from Russia in the Habs organization with the veteran presence of Andrei Markov, the hitting power of Alexei Emelin and the skill, size and speed of Russian-American Alex Galchenyuk.

One very noticeable trait that Scherbak has is a very smooth charisma in front of the microphone, as seen by the interview he gave following his selection by Montreal. Despite having only begun to learn English since his arrival in Canada last year, he’s adjusted well and even quipped that now he’ll have to start learning French which is sure to win over supporters for the as yet unknown Moscow native. What is known about young Scherbak is that he is definitely not yet ready to enter the NHL so no Habs fans should expect to see him in the lineup next season. He still needs time to grow and add muscle to his frame, and while he has shown very good offensive skills he still needs development on the defensive aspect of his game.

It was a lucky turn of events for the Habs as Scherbak was ranked 15th overall among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, he was still available for the Habs at the 26th pick. The charismatic young Russian certainly has the potential to develop into a regular with Montreal which by all accounts should happen. Certainly his coach with the Saskatoon Blades Dave Struch has applauded how coachable Nikita is and that he has a willingness to come to the rink every day and continue to learn, grow and succeed. Perhaps another reason he was drafted as General Manager Marc Bergevin has continually stated a mantra of the importance of character in a locker room. For Nikita’s part, he has repeatedly stated his dream is to play in the NHL.

Here’s to his dream becoming a reality.