Thursday, January 17, 2019

Nikita Scherbak Autograph Card

The 26th overall pick of the 2014 NHL draft, Nikita Scherbak was waived by the Montréal Canadiens on December 1st and claimed by the Los Angeles Kings the next day, marking the seventh of eight first-round picks that have yet to work out in Montréal, the exception being current rookie Jesperi Kotkaniemi, with a thought for elite defenseman-to-be Mikhail Sergachev, traded for Jonathan Drouin.

He scored a goal in his first game in L.A. but produced nothing in the next seven, which prompted the Kings to assign him to their AHL affiliate Ontario Reign, where he again has a lone goal in four games.

He has NHL-level size, skill, speed, hands, shot and overall ability, but so far has refused to put in an NHL-level effort in practices and games. It seems like he feels he should be able to glide on talent alone, like Thomas Vanek a decade ago, with a disdain for good defensive positioning.

Maybe we're looking at an Evgenii Dadonov-type of situation, where he needs to post good numbers in the KHL to develop a thirst for more and come back to North America wanting to surpass himself.

Still, it adds to a pretty uninspiring list of first-round failures (in terms of helping the team, not sheer talent) for Montréal, with all of these players now playing elsewhere at various levels or just plain retired from the game: Mike McCarron (25th overall, 2013), Alex Galchenyuk (third, 2012), Nathan Beaulieu (17th, 2011), Jarred Tinordi (22nd, 2010) and Louis Leblanc (18th, 2009). For the record, Galchenyuk already has a 30-goal season under his belt and I foresee at least five years in the point-per-game range for him starting in a couple of years; I also see McCarron posting a couple of 30-goal seasons, a few 50-point seasons with a peak at around 60-65. They will not all be busts.

It's hard to predict what will come of Scherbak, however.

Here he is sporting the Habs' red (home) uniform, making his entry as #38 in my Habs Numbers Project with the signed insert version of card #91 of the Rookie Premieres (Level 2) card from Upper Deck's 2017-18 Trilogy set:
It's a nice mix of silver (blue on the scan, silver to the naked eye) and gold foil, with a sticker autograph, signed in blue sharpie with his jersey number tagged at the end; it's both tacky and spectacular. This card is numbered 201/349. The NHL's 100th Anniversary patch is displayed below the right shoulder, attesting that the picture came from a regular-season game.

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