Draft 2016: Canadiens Pick Sergachev, Trade Eller, Acquire Hawks’ Shaw
BUFFALO. N.Y. — The Canadiens added some high-end defensive help for the future when they selected defenceman Mikhail Sergachev with the ninth overall pick in the NHL entry draft Friday night at the First Niagara Center.
Sergachev is a two-way defenceman with the ability to put up offensive numbers. The Russian native had 17 goals and 40 assists in 67 games in his rookie season with the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League.
“I’m a two-way defenceman who can play in every situation, the power play and kill penalties,” said Sergachev, who will celebrate his 18th birthday Sunday.
Sergachev said he has modeled his game on Drew Doughty’s –”He’s the best defenceman in the world” – and he said he’s very flattered to be compared to countryman Andrei Markov.
Sergachev said he was interviewed twice by the Canadiens during the season and once at the NHL combine.
He picked up English quickly on his arrival in North America last fall and he said he would make a similar effort with French.
“My father told me I have to learn two new languages now,” he said.
“He learned English in three months and I told him I’d give him six months to learn French,” joked general manager Marc Bergevin.
Trevor Timmins, the Canadiens’ director of amateur scouting, said before the draft that Sergachev is physically ready to play in the NHL, but there are other factors which will factor in his development.
Sergachev said he wanted to reach the NHL as soon as possible and said he would try to make a good first impression when he attends the Canadiens development camp next month.
“Physically, he’s almost a man,” said Bergevin. “He’s got a thick body and he’s a smart player who can play either side. We’ll see him at camp and see where he’s at.”
The Canadiens made a splash prior to their selection. Moments after the Toronto Maple Leafs made Auston Matthews the No. 1 overall pick, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced that the Canadiens sent centre Lars Eller to Washington for second-round picks in 2017 and 2018.
Bettman followed that up by announcing the Canadiens’ acquisition of centre Andrew Shaw from Chicago. In return, Chicago received the Canadiens’ two second-round choices – Nos. 39 and 45 – this year.
Shaw is a 24-year-old restricted free agent who had reached an impasse with the cap-challenged Blackhawks. He had been making $2 million a season and was looking to at least double that. For the Blackhawks, it became of choice of keeping Shaw or Marcus Kruger, who recently signed a three-year extension worth $3.1 million a season.
The Canadiens are expecting to begin talking to agent Pat Brisson immediately about a new deal for Shaw.
“It’s money in and money out,” said Bergevin, noting that the Canadiens save some money by moving Eller who had two years remaining on a deal with a $3.5-million cap hit. In real dollar terms, Eller was scheduled to make $4.25 million next season and $4.75 million in 2017-8.
Bergevin compared Shaw to Brendan Gallagher.
“He’s hard to play against, the fight comes to him,” said Bergevin. “He’s been in the league five seasons and he’s won two Stanley Cups. He has a lot of character.”
Shaw had 14 goals and 20 assists last season in 78 games. He has played 322 NHL games with 70 goals and 67 assists.
Shaw, who is a right-handed shot, isn’t big at 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds but he has a reputation as a battler.
A Canadiens’ spokesman said Shaw, who was at a family wedding in Belleville, seemed excited about the trade. He will talk to the media Sunday.
At the end of this past season, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville talked about Shaw’s value to the team.
“He brings so much to the table that you appreciate,” Quenneville said in April. “His competitiveness. His willingness to find the dirty areas, score big goals – doesn’t get distracted by the competition. I think everybody loves that feistiness I think he brings every game. So he’s an irreplaceable guy in that regard.”
“We always like to have Shawzy,” said Quenneville. ”He’s one of those players that you appreciate and he’s so versatile and the intangibles jump off the page when we’re talking about him. It’s a situation where players are in some situations where contracts need to be signed and his importance, contributions we’ve seen over the years, has been pretty amazing for us.”
The 27-year-old Eller bounced between the wing and centre during his stay in Montreal and his versatility may have been his curse. He had 13 goals and 13 assists in 79 games last season. He has 73 goals and 83 assists in 442 NHL games.
The draft resumes Saturday morning with the final six rounds. After trading their second-round picks, Montreal has one pick in each of rounds three through six but no pick in the seventh round.