Defenseman Mikhail Sergachev might not have known he was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning were it not for social media. Sergachev, the No. 9 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, is vacationing in Cyprus and does not have reliable cell phone service, but he does have access to Twitter.
“Some fan texted me and said, ‘Good luck in Tampa’ and I was like, ‘What?’” Sergachev told the Lightning website Friday. “My phone doesn’t work here in Cyprus so [Montreal Canadiens general manager] Marc Bergevin couldn’t call me. I read it on Twitter or something.”
Sergachev, 18, was acquired by the Lightning on Thursday, along with a conditional second-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, from the Canadiens for forward Jonathan Drouin and a conditional choice in 2018. Drouin, the No. 3 pick in the 2013 draft, signed a six-year, $33 million contract with the Canadiens shortly after the trade was announced.
After two productive seasons with Windsor of the Ontario Hockey League, Sergachev believes he’s ready for the NHL.
“I played a lot in juniors and I learned a lot in those two years,” he said. “I feel like this is my time to play in the NHL. I’ll do my best and I’ll [try] my best to make the Lightning roster.”
Sergachev is the type of the defensive prospect that rarely becomes available on the trade market and has the skill set Tampa Bay covets, Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said.
“We watched him play in juniors, we watched him in his draft year, I watched him play this year in the Memorial Cup again,” Yzerman said Thursday. “He’s got good size. He’s very strong. He’s physical, He skates very well. He’s got an excellent shot. He moves the puck well. We’re hoping that he continues to be that type of player as he turns pro and do that in the NHL. It’s very difficult to find players of that caliber and a prospect of that caliber, they’re difficult to acquire.”
Sergachev said he was surprised by the trade but is excited to join the Lightning.
“When I got drafted by [the Canadiens] I was a big fan of them and I played for them, my first reaction … I was kind of frustrated and shocked, but after that it’s a new opportunity for me,” Sergachev said. “I’ve heard a lot about the [Lightning] organization. They play fast hockey. They play offensive hockey. They have some great players and they have a great coaching staff and management. It’s just awesome.”
Sergachev made the opening-night roster for the Canadiens in 2016-17 and played in three NHL games before being sent back to Windsor. He had 43 points (10 goals, 33 assists) in 50 OHL games after finishing with 57 points (17 goals, 40 assists) in 67 games last season.
If Sergachev does not make the Lightning roster and play in at least 40 games next season, the Lightning will also receive a 2018 second-round pick from the Canadiens in exchange for a 2018 sixth-round pick. Yzerman said Sergachev will be given an opportunity to make the Lightning. If he doesn’t, he’ll return for another season with Windsor.