Tampa Bay Lightning player evaluation part 10! We made it, finally! But who will it be this time around? Staying on the back end for this one, we will look at another youngster, defenceman Mikhail Sergachev.
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Sergachev was traded from Montreal to Tampa Bay two off-seasons ago, and has been a big part of the team since. How valuable was he to the record-setting totals from last season?
Sergachev played in 75 games for the Lightning last season, recording six goals (0.08 goals per game), and 26 assists (0.35 assists per game) for 32 points (0.43 points per game). He averaged 17:55 time on-ice last season with 53.8% of his shifts starting in the offensive zone. That deployment in the offensive zone led to a Corsi For% of 53.7%. He had a takeaway to giveaway ratio of 18 to 50, which is a differential of -32, which is not necessarily good. He also recorded a very average PDO of 100.7, and when Sergachev was on the ice, the Lightning had an expected goals for of 56.2 and an expected goals against of 47.8 which is a differential of +8.4.
Sergachev constantly tries driving the offense, but a lack of consistency is what caused him to lose ice time to rookie Erik Cernak, as well as losing a couple games as a healthy scratch in a defensive rotation involving Braydon Coburn, Dan Girardi, and at one point, Cernak. His consistency must be solved, but did his offensive numbers, and constant pushing of offense in the transitional game, make up for his struggle with turning over the puck? Let’s look at the spider graphs.
Sergachev was right up at the top of the rankings when it came to his shooting, whether he was contributing goals or chances (ShotContr60), gathering assists (ShotAssists60), or just taking a high volume of shots (Shots60). He also stood out, almost hand in hand with Victor Hedman, when it came to entering the offensive zone (PossEntry60, PossEntry%).
He also sparkled exiting the defensive zone, compared to his teammates (PossExit60, PossExit%). While he doesn’t break up passes and generate takeaways while the opposition is entering the zone (Breakups60), he doesn’t allow a lot of entries (PossEntryAllw60).
But when the opposition is breaking into the Lightning d-zone, chances are they’ll get past Sergachev (PossEntry%). Based solely on what I have seen from this graph (and basic statistics), his high deployment in the offensive zone leads to him not dealing with much in the defensive zone, thus why he doesn’t give up a lot of entries, but does give up more entries than he stops. That being said, I also predict that he has a small workload breaking out of the defensive end, but to determine that, we must look at CJ Turtoro’s Exit Per 60 minute visual.
Despite my best guesses, I was wrong, wholly and completely.
Sergachev has a similar workload breaking out of the defensive zone as Hedman, which is why he ranks third on the roster in this metric (1st among defense). He relies heavily on a breakout pass, as he doesn’t skate it out himself too much. He mainly decides to clear or dump the puck out of the zone more than anything, and does get the occasional icing called against him.
But what really concerns me is the high level of fails (Fail/60). That tells me he either forces way too much up ice (since he does push heavily to drive the offense), or he doesn’t successfully clear or dump the puck out of the zone.
I don’t know which is worse quite honestly, but what I can say is he needs to stop whatever it is. He’s still young, and as he grows as a player and gains more confidence in himself (as well as more hockey maturity), he’ll be able to read the play more effectively, and turn the puck over less. Hopefully, at least. On the contrary, his entry metrics were solid, so let’s see what he did right entering the offensive zone, using CJ Turtoro’s Entries per 60 minutes visual.
Sergachev is the best defenseman that played for the Lightning this season, in this metric, and it wasn’t even close.
He passed it to a teammate for an entry or individually skated the puck out himself with equal results, and if neither option was available, he simply dumped it in deep. He didn’t fail nearly as often when entering the offensive zone, but he is a defenseman, and defensemen should not always be the ones entering the offensive zone.
But his success driving the offense makes up for other struggles. Based on prior evaluations, Sergachev should be constantly deployed alongside Hedman, as Hedman can make up for Sergachev’s mistakes. They can both help Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point put the puck in the back of the net.
But we are not done here, we have one last thing to look at. Defensemen need to be good at defending, that’s kind of the point, and to see how well Sergachev played in the defensive zone, let’s hop on over to Sean Tierney’s controlling the blue line visual.
Sergachev is highlighted on the graph, and boy, it does not like good for Sergy.
He generates an egregiously low amount of breakups, and a below average breakout % (Previously referred to as PossExit60 or PossExit%), which puts him in the “Bad” section of the visual. This is why he has his setbacks in ice time, and this is why he was placed in that rotation with Girardi and Coburn. This must improve, regardless of how well he pushes the pace offensively. If he doesn’t get his defensive game figured out next season, he could be looking at another season on the bottom d-pair with second line power play time.
Sergachev is an exceptional pace-pusher, and does a great job generating offense, and excelling in getting the puck into the offensive zone to begin with. But he turns the puck over far too often when breaking the puck out of the defensive zone, the zone that he can’t afford turnovers in.
Then to top it all off, he struggles “controlling the blueline”, which is his job. He has a lot of improving to do, and he must act fast. But he is still young, and super valuable in terms of offensive production, which is the main reason among many that the Lightning fared so well this past season.
All Stats via hockey-reference
The Spider Charts used Data from CJ Turtoro, created by Kyle Pereira
Entry/Exit Charts via CJ Turtoro
Defensive zone chart via Sean Tierney
Featured Image Credit: Justin Miner