Flames First Round Targets 2016: Mikhail Sergachev

The top defence prospect of the 2016 draft has long been Jakob Chychrun. Lately, however, Olli Juolevi has been making a push, in part bolstered by being on such a dominant team.

However, there’s a third defenceman hovering around those two. Maybe not always ranked right on their level, but still ranked pretty high up there, and expected to go in the top 10.

Mikhail Sergachev turns 18 on the second day of the draft. He’s 6’3, 206 lbs., and just coming off of his first season in North America, opting to play his draft year for the Windsor Spitfires instead of in his native Russia. It got him First Team All-Star Honours, so clearly, it wasn’t a bad choice.

Scouting reports

Curtis Joe, Elite Prospects:

A dominant two-way defenceman whose tenacity and competitiveness characterize his style of play. Plays with a poise and confidence that facilitates his creativity with the puck as well as split-second decision making. Naturally fluid skater who is always looking to be engaged, if not the center, of each unfolding play. All-in-all, a diligent two-way defenceman who excels at finding ways to be a difference-maker in games.

Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst:

Sergachev has anchored Windsor’s top pairing since the season began, logging minutes on both the top power play and penalty killing units. He possesses above-average speed, and owns a powerful stride which makes him difficult to stop when in full flight. Additionally, Sergachev is a mobile playmaker from the back end, capable of connecting on and receiving difficult passes, whether up the ice or diagonally through a maze of sticks. Most impressive is his hard shot, which he can fire with substantial velocity from the point’s deepest areas. The pace and complexity of the next level shouldn’t intimidate him, but his slot coverage is one area where he must improve to complete his development.

Brock Otten, OHL Prospects:

He’s such an explosive skater and when you combine that with his puck control, creativity, and aggressiveness in jumping up in the play, you’ve got a defender who constantly pushes his way across the blueline to create scoring chances. I also love Sergachev’s ability and poise when running the point on the powerplay. He possesses an absolute laser of a shot, specifically his one timer, which resulted in a league leading 17 goals from the blueline. Defensively, there are no doubt holes. His reads off the rush and in coverage are a work in progress. And he could stand to pick his spots a bit better when he chooses to jump up in the play. But here’s the thing. The physical tools that he possesses suggest that his defensive game can and will improve. He’s a willing physical combatant and can really lay the boom on forwards who try to go through him to the net. He’s also a fantastic skater, which often covers up a lot of his errors at this level. If you’re taking Sergachev early, you believe in his potential to be a perennial NHL all star, and I definitely see that.

The numbers

Sergachev’s 57 points didn’t just make him Windsor’s highest-scoring defenceman, but their third-highest scoring player, too. The Spitfires were a fifth-seeded team this past season going up against the Kitchener Rangers in the first round of the playoffs. While they staved off a sweep by winning Game 4, the Rangers still brought them down in five; Sergachev was a point-per-game defenceman while trying to fight for a better fate, making him one of the higher-scoring playoff players on his team as well.

Out of the entire OHL he was second in points among defencemen, behind only Rasmus Andersson. The third-highest scoring defender, Chychrun, was a full eight points behind him, albeit in five fewer games played.

It should be noted, however, that 31 of Sergachev’s 57 points came on the powerplay. He scored just 25 points at even strength (one assist was shorthanded), which was good for eighth out of all OHL defencemen, and still ahead of both Chychrun and Juolevi.

Forty of Sergachev’s points (all situations) were primary: either a goal or a first assist. He was the top-ranked OHL defenceman in this stat, ahead of Cam Dineen (second, and also draft-eligible) by five points, and Chychrun and Juolevi by 11 and 13 points, respectively.

Simply put, there’s no doubting Sergachev’s ability to create offence. And he’ll shoot – and score – from just about anywhere, although the point is a respected favourite spot. Via Prospect-Stats:

Shots
Goals

Fit with the Flames

The Flames already have a pretty established top three defenders with Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie, and Dougie Hamilton. They don’t have a set top four quite yet, but anyone ranging from Jakub Nakladal getting a chance, to Sergachev’s fellow First Team All-Star selection, Rasmus Andersson, to someone with an unusual (but impressive) year like Oliver Kylington could fill that hole.

Nobody’s a guarantee, though. As it currently stands, the Flames have a really good top three – but it falls off after that.

Sergachev has size and two-way ability. He could be a reach at sixth overall, or he could look like a brilliant pick. He scored at greater rates than his counterparts in Chychrun and Juolevi (all three defencemen being left-handers), and sure, he may have some defensive inefficiencies to work on – but what 17-year-old doesn’t?

Drafting Sergachev may seem like loading up in one area while others need help, but that doesn’t mean he can’t help the Flames – whether it be via trading him, trading someone else, or just plain playing him to create a potentially stacked defence core. 

Conclusion

If the Flames really, really, really love Sergachev, they might just take him at sixth overall. It would be a bit of a stretch by most draft rankings, but not an egregious one. All of the tools seem to be there: it’s just a matter of developing them and seeing his potential come together.

He should be a good player. The major question here is, if the Flames take him, just what would they be planning for their defence group?

Previous draft targets: Alexander Nylander | Pierre-Luc Dubois | Matthew Tkachuk | Jakob Chychrun | Olli Juolevi | Clayton Keller | Alex DeBrincat | Sam Steel | Vitalii Abramov | Jake Bean | Tyson Jost

  • First Name Unidentified

    As i’ve said before, he looks like the next Hedman. I want this bad boy in the Flamestown

    Top 4 of Gio/TJ/Dougie/Sergachev

    That looks scary good.
    I just think we can trade for or sign wingers in the open market but unless you get a brain fart like Sweeney did, you don’t usually have the Dougies and Seth Jones’ of the world being traded at such age.

    The oilers wish they had done a better job of drafting young D coz they’re having a hard time beefing up their blue line.

    • everton fc

      Sergachev could eventually replace Gio’s offencive #s. Drafting him gives us huge flexibility on the backend, in terms or trade bait. To have Gio/TJ/Dougie/Sergachev will cost a lot of #. Someone’s “gotta give”.

      Chychrun is also an interesting pick…

  • Stu Cazz

    Very interesting prospect…a big body D with skill and speed…would love to see the Flames read on this guy…I would not be surprised if they take him at 6….

  • supra steve

    IF Sergachev (or Juolevi or Chychrun) is the Flames top ranked D-man of the 2016 draft, then I wouldn’t call selecting him at 6th overall a “bit of a stretch” in any way. Draft rankings are just an average of many different points of view, no draft has ever followed exactly any pre-draft list that I have seen. Whoever the Flames select, he will be the highest rated player on the only list that matters, the one BT’s staff has labored all year to put together.

  • Burnward

    Somehow though they have to get some more skill up front.

    If they go this route, I hope Trader BT shows up as well with second round picks and prospects in tow.

  • EhPierre

    So here’s what I got from assessing all three Defenders. Serg has the most points out of all three, which is saying something since Juolevi was in that stacked London Knights team, although Juolevi did play 10 less games

    In terms of actual ability, Juolevi is by far the better skater, Serg coming in second and Chrychrun needing to work on his. Serg does have the better shot out of all three however. Chrychrun has the complete package, out of the other two he just needs to be developed properly which if the Flames do draft him, he’ll be developed properly with one more year of Junior and then the AHL.

    I know some posters on here say that Serg reminds them of Hedman, I just don’t really see it although I’ve never actually seen him play in person so that could be why I don’t see it. He actually reminds me of a calm version of Subban in the sense he wants to be the quarterback for each play, he’s just not skating up and down the ice, spinning around players like Subban does.

    That being said, I think Chrychrun would be the best out of all three if he’s given time to develop properly. He has the physical ability and he’s got all the tools already, he just needs to work on his acceleration and his zone coverage. People have even said he’s a lot like Ekblad, especially with how physically ready he is

    • cberg

      Well, its an interesting comparison of the three D. Personally I don’t see a LOT of difference in their skating, its pretty good with all 3. I see Juolevi as the best defender and probably more polished at first passes, with Sergachev much better offensively and more physical/aggressive. Chychrun is like those old Avis ads, great to be 2nd in just about everything. I believe all three will end up top end D, its just what you want to prioritize on.

      As for the Flames, more physicality/aggression would be nice, but so would excellent D coverage. I don’t think there’s a wrong answer with either Sergachev or Juolevi, and Chychrun totally depends on how well you develop the underlying, latent talents.

      • piscera.infada

        As for the Flames, more physicality/aggression would be nice, but so would excellent D coverage. I don’t think there’s a wrong answer with either Sergachev or Juolevi, and Chychrun totally depends on how well you develop the underlying, latent talents.

        I think that highlights what makes the decision inherently difficult for a team picking in that 4-6 hole. I’ve long advocated that picking the first defenseman there could be a great boon to an organization, but you better damn well pick the right one. If you get the best defenseman that’s awesome, but it’s not like there’s an Aaron Ekblad who’s demonstrably head and shoulders above everyone.

        That’s not to say the Flames shouldn’t pick defense–I would be 100% fine if they do. It just better mean that the Flames’ scouting staff and management aren’t waffling around between the lot of potential defensemen–although the same is obviously true for the forwards (I just see a little more stratification there).

  • Baalzamon

    The premium on defenders is obvious when you look at the Jones/Johansen trade. The trade made perfect sense from Nashville’s point of view, at least superficially; they have lots of defensemen (particularly relatively young ones like Josi, Ellis, and Ekholm), but lack scoring punch and have lacked a first line center since forever. Enter Ryan Johansen, he of two (now three) consecutive 60+ point seasons.

    But from Columbus’s point of view? I mean, sure, they needed a defenseman, but in order to get one they had to create an even bigger hole up front.

    • BurningSensation

      I said it before, but young, cost-controlled Dmen are the coin of the realm. Every team is looking for them in trade, almost without exception (and then there is Edm who are looking for 3 or 4 of them).

      If you have prospects at a similar level, draft the D – you can always get value out of them in trade later – always. (unless you draft a Thomas Hickey 4th overall, then you are just stupid).

      In the case of Columbus, Ryan Johanssen’s development as a #1 C outpaced the rest of the teams development. To correct things they moved him on for Jones, a player who could anchor their D for a generation. Yes, this creates a hole at #1 C, but by having thd D in place first, you cushion the development of the forwards in a way that doesnt happen if you are stacked up front, but weak on D. Also, for whatever reason (it was $), Columbus didn’t care much for RyJo.

      The lessen for rebuilding teams is to focus heavily on drafting D early in the franchises history, and draft forwards once the D is in place. The Jones trade resets the team to a better footing.

      • piscera.infada

        I said it before, but young, cost-controlled Dmen are the coin of the realm. Every team is looking for them in trade, almost without exception (and then there is Edm who are looking for 3 or 4 of them).

        If you have prospects at a similar level, draft the D – you can always get value out of them in trade later – always. (unless you draft a Thomas Hickey 4th overall, then you are just stupid).

        While I agree about young, top-end, const-controlled defensemen being the most valuable commodity, I caution very much against stating that a defenseman is the de facto “correct” pick because of that. Sure, all things being equal, but things rarely are, and you have to make the correct pick in order for them to be that valuable commodity.

        To your example above about Thomas Hickey: he was widely considered the correct pick there. He was a hell of a prospect that was de-railed by injuries, and LA gave up on him much too early. You’re probably better off using Cam Barker as your example–even though, again, he was considered the top defender that year, as well. It simply shows that it’s not always the case that the “top defender” retains their value as a “top commodity”. The same goes doubly for literally over-reaching and picking a defender where they shouldn’t be picked (Griffen Reinhart–unless of course, someone dramatically overpays for them…).

    • I think that Johansen’s attitude had something to do with it. IIRC, Torts wasn’t playing him as much as he thought he should play. Even before Torts he was reportedly not happy in Columbus. Not that he should be traded just for that reason but they got pretty good value for the trade IMO.

  • piscera.infada

    If going defense, I prefer Sergachev or Chychrun (even McAvoy) to Juolevi. There’s something about Juolevi that is off-putting to me, but I can’t quite figure out what it is.

    • Baalzamon

      Might be the same thing as me. I just get the impression that he doesn’t have much development left in him, and thus has a really (or at least comparatively) low ceiling.

      Too much polish, as it were.

      • Jumping Jack Flash

        I would prefer that we did not take a Defender in the first round, however if we did take one he could be a good pick. Since he has only played 1 yr in NA I think he would have more developmental upside. He is different than any defender that we have… Perhaps a bigger Gio.

    • BurningSensation

      For me, Chychrun is the clear frontrunner.

      He slipped in scouts minds because he didnt flash the offense expected, but that is likely due to a shoulder injury/recovery he struggled through early on.

      For Dmen, I rank them;

      1. Chychrun
      2. Juolevi
      3. Sergaychev
      4. McAvoy
      5. Fabbro

      My understanding is that Calgary is rumoured to have Juolevi in their top 6, so we might want to practice spelling/pronounciation, as it is unlikely he gets scooped before we pick.

    • supra steve

      On our concerns about Nylander you replied:

      “Do you (or anyone else) actually have anything other than conjecture to prove Nylander has character concerns?” “And don’t give me this “his dad…” argument. It’s a poor argument. I could just as easily argue that because of his hockey lineage he’s much better equipped to be a professional hockey player than Jost or Juolevi (although I won’t, because I don’t buy that it actually has much merit).”

      So…what’s your argument with Juolevi? It’s a poor argument.

      • piscera.infada

        I just don’t like the way he plays. And you’re correct that’s not a good argument–stating “I can’t figure out what it is”, is admitting as much. I’m also concerned that he produced less offensively than Chychrun and Sergachev on a much higher output team–despite the fact that some scouts rave about his ability to read the play offensively.

        That said, I’m not going create much-ballyhooed opposition if he is the pick.

        Thanks for coming out though…

        • supra steve

          Got it, you are allowed to have opinions about players, Nylander haters are not.

          Also, thank you for your passive aggressive “Thanks for coming out though…”. You’re welcome, it’s great to be out.

          • piscera.infada

            I never said they aren’t. I’m simply saying not liking a player because you don’t like his dad, is just as illogical as me saying I don’t like a player for no reason.

            If someone wants to say Nylander is too small, or doesn’t play defense well enough, or isn’t physical enough, that’s cool. I get it. I disagree, but I get it.

            It’s funny because I agree that the Flames won’t draft Nylander. And I feel that’s a mistake (assuming Dubois isn’t there). To each their own.

          • supra steve

            Now you’re saying, logically, “I don’t like a player for no reason” = I don’t like a player who has inherited his father’s hockey skills, because I am concerned that he has also inherited his father’s lack of passion and drive to be the best player on the ice.

            I don’t know any of the Nylanders, they may be among the nicest people on the planet, but if I’m building a winning hockey team, this would be a major concern to me. Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

            So, you saying my hesitation to embrace Nylander as a possible Flame pick is as illogical as “I don’t like a player for no reason” is more than a little insulting to me and my position.

            You require PROOF from from me as to why I dislike Nylander, you provide none for why you dislike Juolevi. From my perspective, it would be better you just say, “yeah, you caught me being a little hypocritical”, than to try to argue otherwise.

  • Petzl

    Serg is by far the most impressive defender out of the top three. Honestly wouldn’t feel it’s much a stretch at all, and he would be coming into his prime just around the time Gio is leaving his. Not to say Fat Ras or Kylington couldn’t fill that slot but if you picking a player that won’t contribute for another couple years a solid D is better than a winger.

    I honestly wouldn’t be disappointed if we took Nylander or Serg (assuming PLD is gone).

  • Hubcap1

    All the talk has been focused on the Flames need for top 6 scoring wingers, yet Calgary hasn’t had trouble scoring in the last two seasons. 14-15 they were 8th best with 241 gf, and 15-16 they were 11th best with 231 gf. No not setting the world on fire but this isn’t their area of biggest concern. I would think that to most that is goaltending right now, not that I suggest drafting a goalie.

    I wouldn’t view picking the best forward over defensemen just because of a perceived need for scoring as the best way to go. On the contrary as some have pointed out getting a top defensemen nowadays is very difficult. If there was a perception amongst the Flame scouts and brass that the best defensemen was as great a pick as the forward I might be inclined to take the defensemen.

    I should also point out that I realize the Flames generate a lot of their offence from the d-men and I do think that they definitely need a couple of top six wingers, but this draft won’t help that until 17-18 season or later. I and I think the Flames want to win next season.

    • EhPierre

      The reason why our GF were so high was primarily because of our backend. Mony and JG carried our team but you cannot rely on just those two each and every single year because teams are going to be able to defend against them much easier since they are our only real offensive threat. Simply put, the reason why we score so much is because of our defense.

      Im not against drafting a defender but like piscera said, you better draft the best one otherwise you’re gonna be looking silly when you have Nylander and Keller become top talents in a few years and your defender which you thought would become elite, is actually a dud.

      I just think it’s a lot easier drafting a forward because you sort of know what you’re getting out of Nylander and to some extent, Keller. The same cannot be said with a defender.

      • Kevin R

        Saw a 5 minute hi-light reel of Nylander & the kid definitely knows how to put the puck in the net, bar none. Kinda warming to his elite scoring ability. Man would he look nice on a line with Johnny & Monny. I am dead set against trading down, we either take Nylander or the best defender in this draft (& our scouting staff have to be on the money on this one) or we figure out a way to get the #3 or somehow convince Wiesbrod that Janko & Sieloff need to be Canucks & we add our #35 & 54 to get the #5. Then we took Tkachuk or Dubois & we take the best defender as well. Bobs your Uncle :-} Can we get Benning to listen to Wiesbrod one more time, pleeeeaaaase.

        • EhPierre

          I don’t get why people are so dead set against picking Nylander. I’ve watched Tkachuk play and I’m not impressed at all. He’s a big guy but he doesn’t play big at all. He’s 200 pounds but he doesn’t hit big nor is he any good at forechecking unlike Dubois who’s amazing at that. Tkachuk’s shot isn’t that great either. It’s great for Junior but he really needs to improve on it if he wants to be an impact scorer for the NHL

  • The GREAT Walter White

    There is too much uncertainty around who to pick at #6. It does not feel like there is a shelf from 3-6, more like 3-10.

    If there is a team out there who REALLY wants the #6 pick (Montreal…) and are willing to overpay, I think we do it….

    Calgary: gets #10, McCarron (and we dump Raymond).

    Montreal gets the #6 pick(Nylander!!!) and Raymond.

    WW

    • supra steve

      BB has clearly stated that the Flames have a list of their top 7 players, as he really didn’t want to fall to 8th at the lotto draw. Flames picking 6th will be just fine, even if Nylander is on their list of 7, they won’t HAVE to take him.

    • freethe flames

      WW: What’s the reasoning behind your man crush on McCarron? To be honest I have never seen him play. I know he is a big 6’5 230 rw but nothing in his stats makes him seem what we need. Most points he ever got in the CHL 41 and then 38 in the AHL. I’m really interested in the why you like him so much. I am one of the few people who would not have a serious problem with trading down if the player we got back actually meets a team need.

        • freethe flames

          Sounds then like bigger RW version of Ferland which is great but would it be worth doing the trade that WW is on about?

          Now that I did a little additional homework on him I can see why he might be a fit. No where did I find anything that discussed his skating. Any thoughts on this?
          If he develops into what some suggest he could be imagine a line with ferland/Bennett/McCarron would be like. First the flames would have to get him.

  • smatic10

    Selecting Sergachev will officially make us the Nashville of the north, i.e. unreal defensive depth.

    (Gio, TJ, Dougie, Sergachev, Andersson, Kylington, etc).

    I’m totally ok with this selection.

    If Tree could trade down a couple spots and still pick Sergachev, I would be over the moon. In the process we could potentially offload a bad contract or acquire a young top-9 RWer.

    Much easier said than done I’m sure, but Tree has shown he can quietly pull off some creative moves.

  • Backburner

    This is a late comment.. but Sergachev’s height and weight as of today at the combine is 6’3 and 220lbs!!

    I don’t know about you, but a huge defenseman with that kind of skill might be to much to pass up at 6th.

  • McRib

    Sergachev had a very disappointing U18s for me, I really can’t see him moving up to 6th in the Draft after that recent performance. My choices for the 6th pick would be in this order:

    1) PLD 2) Keller 3) Bean 4) Nylander

    Clayton Keller is only the fourth player in USNTDP history to break 100 points before being drafted. Others include Patrick Kane, Jack Echel, Auston Matthews…. Elite company!!! Phil Kessel was close as well.

    Jake Bean 0.94 PPG (0.90 without Sanheim). Mikhail Sergachev 0.85 PPG. Jakob Chychrun 0.79 PPG. Olli Juolevi 0.74 PPG.

    Bean is a major late bloomer with a June third quarter birthday, which usually suggests he could grow another inch or two before next season. Offensively there is no defender as talented in this draft as Bean (see 24 Goals). Looking further at future upside no one has more considering where he has come the last two years and where he could still go on developmental curve. I mean it’s crazy Bean isn’t regularly in the Top. 10 conversation. If I am taking a defender with that pick it’s Bean hands down, I also love the kids interviews so professional. He isn’t over confident, but has the confidence all stars do and plays with a chip after being passed over in Bantam Draft (see Iginla, Benn, Weber, etc). I have been following the WHL incredibly close for the last decade, Bean is the best draft eligible passer I have seen in that time. Shea Thedore is the only defender that has even come close to Bean in that aspect (passing/heads up distribution) during recent years.

    Anyway everyone is saying the same thing, thought I would throw in wild cards Keller & Bean. Juolevi is underwhelming, I mean 0.74 PPG playing on that London Power Play?!?!? Some people are criticizing Matthew Tkachuk for benefiting from playing on London, but at least he had 1.88 PPG, whereas Juolevi’s numbers were underwhelming (I think people are just criticizing Tkachuk because they know he ends up in Vancouver or Edmonton). Don’t get me wrong I think Olli becomes a decent 2-3 defender, but he has not made me think he has enough offense to be a legit star. Jake Bean on the other hand does, I would take a higher ceiling player like Bean all day with a 6th Overall Pick. Bean reminds me of Kris Letang for what it’s worth.