The Montreal Canadiens entered the 2014 NHL Draft holding the 26th overall selection in the opening round, due to their run to the Eastern Conference Final in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They used the pick to select Nikita Scherbak from the Saskatoon Blades of the Western Hockey League.
Scherbak is a good sized winger at 6’1″ tall and weighing in at 175 pounds. The young Russian is a highly skilled winger who is an excellent playmaker. Scherbak scored 78 points in 65 games with a struggling Blades team, and finished ahead of the second highest scorer on the Blades by an incredible 35 points. He scored 28 goals and 50 assists, while the next highest scorer had just 43 points with the team before being traded away.
Montreal Canadiens general manager said after the pick that the organization will take its time with their newest player and will not try and rush him into the league. He noted that the Canadiens already have a strong Russian contingent including Andrei Markov, Alexei Emelin and Alex Galchenyuk who will help ease Scherbak onto his new team.
Scherbak is more of a high risk high reward type pick, as he is an extremely gifted offensive player who will need to work on his defensive game before he makes his mark in the National Hockey League. As a right winger he could fill a huge organizational need if he develops into a scorer at the NHL level.
Many scouts are excited to see what Scherbak will be able to do when he has a better team and better linemates. As a highly skilled playmaker, it stands to reason that Scherbak will be at his best when playing with good goal scorers, but he has not been fortunate enough to play alongside a sniper in the WHL.
As a 1995 birth year, Scherbak will only have to play one more season in Junior before he is eligible to play for the Hamilton Bulldogs. It will be interesting to see how well his skills shine when playing with professional players. We won’t have to wait long to find out.