The Canadiens announced Monday that they have signed Nikita Scherbak to a three-year, NHL entry-level contract after making him their first-round pick (26th overall) at this year’s NHL draft.
In 65 regular-season games last season with the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades, the 6-foot-2, 189-pound right-winger posted 28-50-78 totals, along with 46 penalty minutes. The 18-year-old led all WHL rookies in scoring and led his team in goals, assists and points.
“I want to play in the NHL next season and I’m working hard to make that dream come true,” Scherbak told reporters earlier this month when he attended the Canadiens’ development camp in Brossard.
Said GM Marc Bergevin at the time about Scherbak playing in the NHL next season: “Whether he makes the team or not is up to him.”
Terms of the contract were not disclosed by the Canadiens, but Scherbak will earn the entry-level maximum of $925,000 if he plays in the NHL and $70,000 if he plays in the AHL. There is also a bonus involved and the start of the contract will be delayed if he goes back to junior next season.
Scherbak, a Russian, spoke no English when he arrived in Saskatoon last fall but quickly picked it up “by talking to people.” He said he’ll apply the same approach to learning French.
Before the NHL draft, Dan Marr, the NHL’s director of Central Scouting, told The Gazette’s Brenda Branswell that Scherbak was “one of the more exciting players in his draft class.” Marr added that Scherbak is “ultra quick” with an impeccable sense of timing to be open – “just to get the puck or take the shot. He finds the openings out there.”
“This is a kid with NHL skills,” Marr added.
There’s also good news about another Habs prospect. NHL.com reported that Tim Bozon, who spent four weeks in a Saskatchewan hospital earlier this year with a severe form of meningitis and was placed in a medically induced coma, will play for France at an under-23 tournament in the Czech Republic that begins on July 31.
Bozon was released from hospital on March 28 and has been working with the Canadiens’ training staff. Bozon, a left-winger who is listed at 6-foot-1 and 199 pounds, played 50 games for the WHL’s Kootenay Ice last season, posting 30-32-62 totals. The Canadiens selected him in the third round (64th overall) at the 2012 NHL draft.
In other news, the Canadiens announced Monday that defenceman Bobby Shea has been signed to a one-year, two-way contract for the AHL/ECHL.
(Photo by Dario Ayala/The Gazette)