Scherbak, Sekac hoping to crack Canadiens roster

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TSN.ca Staff
7/7/2014 10:20:04 PM
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First-round draft pick Nikita Scherbak is doing everything he can to crack the Montreal Canadiens roster, but admits it's a difficult task for a first-year player.

"It's very hard, a lot of pressure, a lot of people watching, but I'm alright right now," Scherbak told reporters after the second day of the Canadiens development camp in Brossard, Quebec.

Scherbak said his goal is to make to it to the NHL this season, but ultimately the decision will be left to the coaching staff.

"It's hard work and we'll see," said Scherbak. "I can't say I already know (who will make the roster), it's the coaches' opinion… It's a big pressure for me, but I'm trying to play next season, I'll try everything to make it to the NHL."

The 18-year-old acknowledged he has areas of his game he needs to improve on in order to play at the top level.

"I play pretty well in the offensive zone, but I need to work on defensive zone and compete level with the puck."

The native of Moscow, Russia said his favourite player in the league also hails from his home country.

"I think Pavel Datsyuk is my favourite player. When I was young, I watched him every time, he was my favourite."

Scherbak, who joined the WHL's Saskatoon Blades last season, said he's been working on his English and has used television to help him improve.

"I like SportsCentre, I watched just sports like NHL games, NBA games and everything about sports."

Undrafted forward Jiri Sekac has also been given his shot with the Montreal Canadiens and he plans to make the most of it.

Speaking to reporters following the second day of the development camp, Sekac told reporters he believes he earned his shot with the team through strong play overseas.

"I had a really, really good season (in the KHL), and I think that's the reason why I received so many offers," Sekac said.

Sekac added that he had been given roughly 10 offers, but narrowed his list to four top-level teams before signing a two-year entry-level contract with the Canadiens.

The 22-year-old said he made the decision to join the Canadiens based on his knowledge of the franchise and a visit to the city of Montreal following the World Hockey Championship.

He did, however, admit to having a connection with Canadiens forward Tomas Plekanec, though the Czech centre made no impact on his decision.

"I didn't really know (Pleakanec), but two years ago, we started playing roller hockey together back in Kladno (Czech Republic), because we're from the same town. We didn't really talk about Montreal, though he told me a few things. But it was just my decision (to join the Canadiens), I wasn't making the decision because of someone's opinions," Sekac said.

Sekac told the media that he hopes he is "really close" to making the NHL, but admitted no player has an easy road to making it immediately.

When asked what he thought of Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin mentioning his name amongst three players he believed could fill a spot on the wing in the top nine of the Canadiens lineup, Sekac said he'd "do his best to fill the spot" and added he hoped Bergevin was right.

Sekac spent the last three seasons playing with Prague Lev of the KHL, finishing second on the team in points with 11 goals and 17 assists in 47 games.

Nikita Scherbak (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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