Grading the Mikhail Sergachev deal as TBL work cap magic to keep core intact

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Mikhail Sergachev, 98

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (98). Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Mikhail Sergachev and the rest of the gang are staying put with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

It was announced this afternoon that the Tampa Bay Lightning had signed stud defenseman Mikhail Sergachev to a three-year, $14.4 million contract.

The new deal carries an Average Annual Value of $4.8 million and will keep Sergachev, who was a Restricted Free Agent, in Tampa through the end of the 2023-24 season, where he will still be an RFA.

For a team like the Lightning who are still celebrating their long-awaited Stanley Cup success earlier this summer, keeping the core intact was crucial and Sergachev is a huge part of that.

Since being acquired in a trade from the Montreal Canadiens on June 15, 2017, for forward Jonathan Drouin, Sergachev has gone from strength-to-strength and has truly flourished with the Lightning.

He’s emerged and then established himself as one of the best young defensemen in the National Hockey League, and this could just be the start of things to come for Sergachev who will have his eyes on another Stanley Cup or two with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

This was a huge and significant deal for Tampa Bay, and we are going to break down the contract in full before giving it a final grade…

The Real Deal

Although things are starting to look up for the Montreal Canadiens, you can’t help but think that their fans still have nightmares over the trade that sent Mikhail Sergachev to Tampa.

After all, Jonathan Drouin has hardly set the world alight in Montreal while Sergachev has developed into a real stud with the Lightning.

Drafted by the Canadiens with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, Sergachev skated in just four regular season games for Montreal before being traded to Tampa Bay in 2017.

It was a move that changed the course of the blueliner’s career and also that of the Lightning’s trajectory, who all of a sudden had a young stud on the backend to compliment the play of elite defenseman Victor Hedman.

And it didn’t take long to work out that Tampa had clearly won the trade with Sergachev quickly becoming a key cog in the well-oiled Lightning machine, recording 40 points (9 G, 31 A) in 79 games during his rookie year of 2017-18.

Sergachev did regress somewhat in 2018-19 with 32 points (6 G, 26 A) in 75 regular season games, while he put up a career-high 10 goals and 24 assists for 34 points in 70 games in what was a shortened 2019-20 season due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

However, the 22-year-old saw his ATOI increase in each of the last two seasons, culminating in a career-high average of 20:22 this past year, while he also recorded career-highs in blocked shots (99) and hits (106), perfectly illustrating the maturation of his overall game.

Simply put, Sergachev has improved year in and year out and is developing into a high-end top-four defenseman who can make an impact in all three zones, play in all situations, produce offense and be an absolute monster in his own zone.

That latter part was proven in 2019-20 with Sergachev putting his imposing 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds frame to good use, laying on 106 hits and showing tantalizing glimpses of just how physical he can be.

Mikhail Sergachev #98,

Mikhail Sergachev #98 of the Tampa Bay Lightning. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Setting a career-high in power play goals with five in 2019-20 too, Sergachev took a gigantic step forward and again proved that he looks every inch the franchise defenseman of the future for the Lightning.

And, with his team looking to slay their postseason demons once and for all, Sergachev stepped up to the plate in a big way during the 2019-20 Stanley Cup Playoffs, recording 10 points (3 G, 7 A) in 25 games with a plus / minus rating of +4 while averaging a monster ATOI of 22:37.

He also racked up 41 blocked shots and 63 hits and, although he gave up 33 Giveaways, the defenseman proved that he’s got all the intangibles needed to succeed on the big stage when the pressure is really on.

Overall, Mikhail Sergachev has elevated his game to the next level consistently, propelling himself into the upper-echelons of the finest young blueliners in the National Hockey League.

At just 22-years-old, there’s plenty of room to grow and improve too, which is incredible news for the Tampa Bay Lightning but scary news for the rest of the league.

If Sergachev can continue on this current upwards trajectory then he could well be the long-term heir to the throne for Victor Hedman on that Tampa Bay backend.

But, for now at least, Sergachev has three years to continue to hone his craft, learn the game and take big steps while forming a lethal one-two punch with Hedman with the Lightning hungry for more championships as they look to create a modern-day dynasty.

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