Mikhail Sergachev was on vacation with his family in Cyprus when he received a message on his cell phone that would change his life forever.
“Some fan texted me and said, ‘Good luck in Tampa,’ and I was like, “What?” said the newest member of the Tampa Bay Lightning. “My phone doesn’t work here in Cyprus, so (Montreal Canadiens general manager) Marc Bergevin couldn’t call me.”
Sergachev said he immediately went on social media to find out what was going on and read about his trade to the Lightning on Twitter. Sergachev was dealt to Tampa Bay on Thursday in exchange for Jonathan Drouin.
“My reaction was like, I don’t know,” Sergachev said. “When I got drafted by the Habs, I was a big fan of them and I played for them. But then I got traded and first reaction was I was kind of frustrated and shocked but after that, it’s a new opportunity for me.”
Sergachev was picked by Montreal with the ninth overall selection in the 2016 NHL Draft and impressed the Canadiens enough in training camp to earn a spot on the Opening Night roster. Sergachev made his NHL debut on October 13, 2016 at Buffalo and played two more games with the Habs before being sent back to his junior team in Windsor. Sergachev got in one more game with Montreal in the final game of the regular season to finish plus-one through four NHL games before rejoining the Spitfires for their playoff run.
In his second season with Windsor, Sergachev scored 10 goals, added 33 assists and was plus-22 through 50 regular season games. He helped Windsor win the prestigious Memorial Cup to conclude his junior season and was named to the Memorial Cup All-Star Team.
Sergachev said once he did a little more research on the Lightning following the trade, his excitement to become a part of the franchise grew.
“I’ve heard a lot about the organization and they play fast hockey and they play offensive hockey,” he said. “They have some great players and they have a great coaching staff and management. It’s just awesome.”
Sergachev is still juniors eligible for one more season, but Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman said the organization “will give Mikhail an opportunity to make our team” coming out of training camp. For his part, Sergachev feels he’s ready to make the full-time leap to the NHL. In 2015-16, his first season in the Ontario Hockey League, Sergachev won the Max Kaminsky Trophy as the league’s most outstanding defenseman, becoming the youngest rookie to win the award and second-youngest defenseman overall to receive the honor.
“I feel like I had enough juniors and I played a lot in juniors and I learned a lot in those two years,” Sergachev said. “I feel like this is my time to play in the NHL, and I’ll do my best and I’ll play my best to make the Lightning roster.”
Lightning fans will get an early opportunity to see Sergachev up close. The 18-year-old left-handed shot said he will attend the Bolts’ development camp from June 27 through July 1. The camp will be held at the Brandon Ice Sports Forum and is free and open to the public.