Some players find it a great difficulty to adjust from European hockey to the North American game when making the transition across the Atlantic.
But for Saskatoon Blade left winger Nikita Scherbak, it’s been no sweat.
Many scouts were wary of the rangy Russian sniper at the start of the season, questioning his style of play and ability to translate his skills to the smaller ice surface, but Scherbak has fit into the WHL game like John Lennon at Woodstock.
His 25 goals and 64 points in 51 games are good for first on the Blades by a considerable margin and he’s been an imperative cog in the Saskatoon system during his inaugural season in North America.
Scherbak’s excellent skating and puck skills have been crucial contributing factors to his smooth transition to the WHL this season, according to Future Considerations head scout Zenon Herasymiuk.
“Scherbak is a rangy forward with a very long stride that allows him to burn up ice, with good agility and acceleration,” Herasymiuk said. “He’s showed good hands and on a few occasions is able to mesmerize opponents with some dazzling puck plays and has no problem handling the puck under pressure.”
Standing 6-foot-2 and 172 pounds, Scherbak isn’t an overly imposing physical player but can effectively rub opponents out of the play to transition the puck up ice, away from his own net.
“While not really a gritty player, he will get his nose dirty if necessary and shows a willingness to go to the dirty areas when called upon,” said Herasymiuk.
Scherbak has been a fast climber on many draft lists, and although not listed within the first round of Future Considerations’ February ranking for the 2014 NHL Draft, there’s a very real possibility he finds himself on the inside, sometime soon.
His incredible puck skills and vision have been on display for nearly six months and scouts are taking serious notice. He also carries with him a crisp passing ability and heavy shot to compliment his diverse and impressive offensive arsenal.
In addition, his ability to effortlessly transition from one brand of hockey to another also speaks volumes of his flexibility and adaptability, another key intangible NHL teams value.
And if things continue to progress the way they have, it’s more than likely that the next transition Scherbak will be attempting, will be one to the National Hockey League.