The last time a teenager made the Montreal Canadiens was in 2013 when 2012 third overall pick Alex Galchenyuk came into camp during the lockout-shortened season and impressed. However, there were questions whether Galchenyuk should have remained in junior the entire year considering he missed most of his draft year with a knee injury. He stayed and the rest is history as he is Montreal’s top centre to start the year. This season, another teenager is getting the chance to begin the season with the Habs, and this time it is defenceman Mikhail Sergachev looking to make the jump.
.@sergachev31 will be the first 18-year-old defenseman to play for the #Habs since Mathieu Schneider, who played four games in 1987-88. https://t.co/6pD25F8FzF
— Sean Farrell (@seanfarrell27) October 10, 2016
Making an Impression
A top ten pick (ninth overall) back in June, there was talk that Sergachev wouldn’t need a lot of development time and would be NHL-ready sooner rather than later. He has the size and the talent to potentially make the jump permanently. It is unusual to see Sergachev be given an opportunity like this as Montreal management is loath to put teenage players in the NHL and head coach Michel Therrien, in particular, isn’t one to trust rookies right away.
Related – Mikhail Sergachev Is Montreal’s Best Prospect
It says a lot that Sergachev played regularly in the preseason and that fellow defenceman Mark Barberio was waived and sent down to the AHL. Barberio didn’t have a good training camp but he looked good at the end of last season. Teenage defenceman rarely make the NHL and when they do, they either succeed like Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings or have their development go completely sideways like Luke Schenn, who now plies his trade with the Arizona Coyotes.
.@TSNBobMcKenzie on Sergachev "Unbelievable a guy that size can skate that fast. Saw him play last year I think he’s a brilliant defenceman"
— Sean Coleman (@SColemanUFA) September 30, 2016
Is Sergachev NHL-Ready?
In Sergachev’s case, getting a nine-game tryout is a big deal. However, if he were to stay with Montreal all season long, he would be well insulated as he has excellent players around him to lean on. The Montreal roster is very experienced, especially on the back end. There is the ultimate professional and leader in Shea Weber and there is fellow Russian Andrei Markov, who knows a thing or two about quarterbacking a power play.
With Markov slowing down, Sergachev could be seen as Markov’s successor and be that top pairing player who could run Montreal’s power play one day. Learning from Markov as well as Weber could only help Sergachev.
THW Archives – Mikhail Sergachev: The Next Ones 2016 Draft Prospect Profile
Unless Sergachev blows the doors off, it might be in his best interest to send him back to the Windsor Spitfires in the Ontario Hockey League where he’ll compete in the Memorial Cup and represent Russia at the World Juniors. Prospects don’t get ruined by being brought along slowly, but rather, there are far too many cases of players not fulfilling their potential because they were given too much too soon. It makes little sense to have Sergachev play a small role in the NHL when he can go back to junior and play a big one. Sergachev is a very important piece of Montreal’s future as he has the potential to be a top flight number one defenceman down the road.