Mikhail Sergachev: “I was upset by the trade at first, but my parents supported me”

“I’ve graduated from college, now I’m planning to get higher education. I’m going to apply to the Faculty of Law.”

Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Mikhail Sergachev was recently interviewed in Russian by Pavel Panyshev of Championat.com. Sergachev talks about his feelings after the trade, his parents’ support, his communication with Nikita Kucherov and the special qualities of Lightning head coach Jon Cooper and GM Steve Yzerman.

If you use this translated text in any way, please credit Championat.com and Igor Nikonov (@nikonov_igor) of Raw Charge for the translation.

Pavel Panyshev: What were your first impressions after the trade to Tampa?

Mikhail Sergachev: I didn’t expect it. I wouldn’t say it was hard for me. I was upset for the first five minutes, but then I talked to my parents and they supported me. They saw a new opportunity, a new chance in this. I think I have a good chance to play in Tampa.

Panyshev: You were selected 9th overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. Was it a shock for you that Montreal has parted with one of their leading prospects?

Sergachev: This is business. Being upset or resenting anyone is pointless. You can be traded 15 times during your career. I’ve been traded because Montreal needed a good forward and trading me was the only way for them to get one.

Panyshev: They took Jonathan Drouin in the end.

Sergachev: Yes, they needed that francophone who would score and would be loved by the fans. Besides, he really wanted to play there.

Panyshev: How is Nikita Scherbak doing? Did you have time to say goodbye before leaving?

Sergachev: We've texted. I think he’s going to be OK. He has improved both as a player and as a person. He’s developing in the right direction and Montreal is following his progress.

Panyshev: Were you surprised that Radulov didn’t get a new contract in Montreal and will be playing for Dallas?

Sergachev: I wasn’t, because Montreal had just signed Carey Price to a $10.5 million contract. Drouin and Galchenyuk had been signed too. They could’ve kept Radulov but decided otherwise. I think Markov will be signed.

Panyshev: Alexei Emelin has left the team too.

Sergachev: Yes, Vegas picked him and immediately traded to Nashville. This is something I wasn’t expecting. The Predators need defensemen who know how to play in defense. They have strong top-4 and those guys are good in offense too. And the guys in the third pair will play in defense. Emelin is a very strong defenseman. He can play in top-4 too. He played with Shea Weber, scored goals and got points. He’s a universal player.

Panyshev: Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin is a peculiar person—funny, with unusual behaviour. Did you talk to him often?

Sergachev: We didn’t talk much. I haven’t seen him talking to players. But I’ve heard a lot about it.

Panyshev: A large Russian diaspora is forming in Tampa.

Sergachev: It’s very nice to talk in Russian sometimes. There are a lot of young prospects of my age and even younger. I’ve already talked to Kucherov. He said, “You’ll like it in Tampa.” The city is calm; there are enough places to visit.

Panyshev: Have you talked to Vasilevskiy too?

Sergachev: No, I haven’t met him and Namestnikov yet, just Kucherov.

Panyshev: Living in Tampa is very comfortable. Is it also an advantage?

Sergachev: Yes. But I haven’t played there yet, so we’ll see how I settle in.

Panyshev: Were you surprised that Alexander Volkov went to Tampa from the VHL? How will he and Lipanov prove themselves?

Sergachev: He is evaluated highly. We played together at the development camp – he skates well and has a very strong shot. His head is working, actually thinking what he’s doing on the ice. Lipanov is a different type of player, a more technical center. He’s thin, small, although he has grown recently. He’s fast. I don't even know whom to compare him to in the NHL. He also has good passing skills.

Panyshev: Your agent thinks that there’s a big chance for you to make the NHL team in the first year. Do you think it will be easier in Tampa than in Montreal?

Sergachev: I did not follow the team's defensemen very much. I’ve seen who’s in the roster. But I don’t really care who’s playing there. It all depends on me. If I play well, then I'll get into the first team.

Panyshev: What do you think about the head coach Jon Cooper?

Sergachev: He’s an atypical coach. Generally, coaches talk to hockey players cautiously, not really telling anything.

Panyshev: And he is uninhibited?

Sergachev: Yes. He’s calm and it's very easy with him. He left a positive impression.

Panyshev: Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman also deserves some attention. Is it a pleasure for you that this person, who is known for his love for Russians, noticed you?

Sergachev: By the way, he’s an atypical general manager too because I haven’t seen a general manager going into the locker room and talking to prospects, trying to solve their small problems. Our flight from Tampa was delayed by 14 hours, we couldn’t take off. Yzerman talked to us and tried to distract us from all that. Furthermore, Steve is one of the greatest hockey players in the history of the NHL. And just a very good person.

Panyshev: When does the rookie camp start?

Sergachev: September 6 or 7.

Panyshev: What are your plans for staying in good physical condition?

Sergachev: I’m going to train with one very good hockey player and prepare for the season.

Panyshev: Where and how did you relax?

Sergachev: I’ve been to Cyprus with my parents, just like we did last year. It was my idea, I liked it there. We relaxed, lay on the beach, swam. It was a good rest.

Panyshev: How did you react to the decision of the NHL not to participate in the Olympics? What will you do to get into the national team and attract the attention of head coach Oleg Znarok?

Sergachev: The NHL is afraid of the Olympics, because they need insurance, extra money. What do you do if someone gets injured? I can understand them. But on the other side, the Winter Olympics is a celebration of hockey. Every hockey player wants to go there, wherever he plays. Every player wants to play for his national team, show himself and win the Olympics. You can play there just once or twice during your career. If you aren’t Pavel Datsyuk, of course (laughs). Otherwise it’s better to make the playoffs than to play in the World Championship.

Panyshev: Why did you come to your hometown Nizhnekamsk? Did you get to see your friends?

Sergachev: No, I didn’t. I went to Kazan to defend my degree work. I mostly spend my free time with my parents. I’ve graduated from college, now I’m planning to get higher education. I’m going to apply to the Faculty of Law. I’m going to study remotely.