For many Russian young guns, the road to the National Hockey League involves stops in the MHL – Russia’s equivalent to the CHL.
Sergei Tolchinsky is one of those players choosing the road less traveled by Russians en route through the Canadian Hockey League to the 2013 NHL Draft. Tolchinsky made the transition to the CHL in September with the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League after being selected 12th overall by the Greyhounds in the 2012 CHL Import Draft.
He had scored an impressive 34 points in 51 games in the MHL in 2011-12 so it was no surprise that he got off to a white-hot start to his OHL career recording 11 goals for 24 points in his first 27 games in the Soo. His lightning quick hands, elite vision and relentless work ethic have been a killer combination for the young Russian who sits third in OHL rookie scoring with 25 goals and 50 points in 60 games this season.
Scouts have raved about Tolchinsky’s puck skills and his ability to materialize a scoring chance out of nothing, all of which has Future Considerations scouting director Dan Stewart impressed.
“He is a very electrifying offensive talent who has some of the quickest and most creative hands in the entire draft,” Stewart said. “He is dangerous every time he touches the puck because of his puck skills and quickness and his shot is quick off his stick,. His vision is also very impressive and he is a real weapon on the power play from the half wall.”
Despite the impeccable offensive ability, Tolchinsky lacks the size and strength needed to compete at the higher levels. He stands just five-foot-seven and weighs in at a slight 150 pounds. His lack of size and inability to win battles due to his size may have been a determining factor in leaving the young sniper off Russia’s World Junior club in December.
Now while his size and strength, or lack thereof is a major deterrent, Stewart thinks Tolchinsky’s extensive library of skills will likely entice a team just enough to use a later round pick on speedy Russian.
“Despite his inability to fight through traffic and battle for 50/50 pucks along the boards, I would still expect an NHL team to step up and select the talented Russian in the mid-to-late rounds hoping that he can add those physical elements,” he said. “At the moment though, his lack of size and functional strength make it difficult for him to compete at even the major junior level.”
Just 18, Tolchinsky still has time to fill in his frame. The added size can do nothing but help his chances of an NHL career.
Until then, he will continue his journey down the unbeaten path and use all the resources the CHL has to offer to turn his dream into a reality.