Only time will tell whether Nikita Scherbak measures up to general manager Marc Bergevin's projection as a top-six forward, but the Russian displayed a top-six personality after he was selected by the Canadiens in the first round (26th overall) at the National Hockey League draft Friday night. For someone who couldn't speak English when he arrived in Saskatoon nine months ago, Scherbak displayed equal amounts of charm, humour and confidence in his first encounter with the Montreal media. "Oh my God, there are so many people," Scherbak said as he mounted the podium after his selection. Scherbak, who was the Saskatoon Blades' most valuable player after scoring 28 goals and 78 points in 65 games as a Western Hockey League rookie, said the biggest adjustment he had to make was the language. "The first month I was just using my hands, but I talked to people and that's how I learned," Scherbak said. "Maybe now I have to learn French." Some NHL teams have been reluctant to draft Russian players because they might return home to play in the Kontinental Hockey League and that could be the reason Scherbak was still around for the Canadiens after being ranked 15th by Central Scouting. Scherbak eased those fears by saying he went to Saskatoon because his dream is to "play in the NHL against the best players in the world. I'm not thinking of the KHL." He went on to say that the Canadiens were his favourite NHL team because of players like Andrei Markov and Alex Kovalev. But when asked about his favourite NHL player, Scherbak said it was Edmonton's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Habs take Russian Scherbak with first-round pick
Montreal Gazette | Jun 28