The Montreal Canadiens have signed their first round pick to an entry level deal. Nikita Scherbak came to terms with the Habs on his first professional contract this afternoon. Scherbak was selected by the Canadiens with the 26th selection in the 2014 NHL Draft, and looks to be an impact scoring winger down the road.
Scherbak played last season in the Western Hockey League with the Saskatoon Blades, and will in all likelihood return to the WHL next season. Since he was drafted out of the WHL, he is not eligible to play in the American Hockey League with the Hamilton Bulldogs until he turns 20, a year from now.
Scherbak was a one man wrecking crew on the Blades last season, leading the team in points with 78, ahead of the second leading scorer on the team by 35 points.HIs 78 points led all rookies in the WHL, 19 more than the second highest scoring first year player.
Scherbak is a big winger at 6’2″ and can bring plenty of offence to the table. The native of Moscow, Russia is well known for his offensive instincts, and could have gone higher in the draft if not for his birthplace. NHL teams are extremely cautious of drafting players from Russia, but Scherbak has already committed to North America by coming to play for a weak Saskatoon team in the WHL. I can’t see him being scared off from the big city of Montreal, when he was willing to play in Saskatchewan on one of the worst teams in the western league.
My best guess is that Scherbak returns to the Blades next season, and continues his torrid scoring pace. It is possible he could find himself dealt to a contender at the WHL’s trade deadline, as he will be eligible to play in the AHL in 2015-16, and will be playing his last season in the WHL this year. After a year in the AHL, I can see Scherbak cracking the Habs lineup full time on opening night in 2016.
Scherbak will earn $925,000 against the cap over the three year deal.