Mired in a terrible season, and unable to score goals, the Montreal Canadiens look to their farm team for a boost. The club announced today that they are calling up forward Nikita Scherbak from the AHL’s Laval Rocket. It is Scherbak’s second call-up this season. He played three games earlier in the year, before hurting his knee and then went back to Laval after recovering. Expect to see Scherbak play in both of the Canadiens Super Bowl weekend matinee games, against the Anaheim Ducks and Ottawa Senators.
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) February 2, 2018
Montreal Canadiens Call Up Nikita Scherbak
Scherbak has been brilliant in the AHL this season, with seven goals and 23 assists for 30 points in 24 games. He has been remarkably consistent, with at least one point in 21 of 24 games. Scherbak, 22, was the Habs first round pick (26th overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft. He has one goal in five prior NHL games.
Our Summer scouting report on Scherbak is as follows:
Scherbak is a strong and powerful skater. His stride may not be textbook, but he has good speed and acceleration despite this. His first step is particularly fast and allows him to be first on many loose pucks. Scherbak also has very good edge work and agility. The acceleration and edge work makes him very elusive off the rush with his quick cuts. His ability to generate speed quickly takes advantage of any opening those cuts can create. Added lower body strength allows Scherbak to fight through checks and drive the net. He is very good when he is taking the puck to the front of the goal, but could do it even more. He also controls the puck well in the cycle. Scherbak showed this year that his skating issues of 2015-16 were mainly as a result of his injury.
Scherbak is a very good stick handler who is able to make a wide variety of moves at top speed. He also has outstanding vision and great passing skills. Scherbak is also able to utilize these passing skills in the cycle game and works well down low. Scherbak is not afraid to battle in the corners or in front of the net, and plays a gritty style, at least in the offensive end of the ice. He also has an excellent wrist shot and release which helps him to score goals. Add to this high-end hockey IQ and ability to read the game, and you have a potentially dynamic offensive player. One area that is lacking is consistency. Scherbak had long scoring streaks and long droughts last season. Making those droughts shorter and less frequent is key.
Scherbak has improved defensively, but there are still some very big strides to be taken. He sometimes looks lost in the defensive end of the ice last year. He has improved in reading the play and using his hockey sense, anticipation, and quick first step to close down passing lanes and cause turnovers. When he does this he is able to smartly transition towards the offence. He needs to pick his spots though, as he can over-commit which causes him to lose his man. He has shown more commitment to the backcheck and takes that increased physicality and grit into all three zones of the ice. Scherbak needs to continue to work on his defensive game at the pro level.