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Kings claim winger Nikita Scherbak on waivers

Looking for any way to help shake up an offensively starved team, the Kings claimed Russian winger Nikita Scherbak after he had been waived by the Montreal Canadiens.

Scherbak had yet to get into an NHL game this season, but played five games for the Laval Rocket, registering one goal. Last season, Scherbak played in 26 NHL games, putting up four goals and six assists. He performed at a high level in the AHL, with 30 points (seven goals, 33 assists) in 26 games with Laval in the 2017-18 season.

Scherbak was a 2014 first-round draft pick of the Canadiens, being selected with the 26th pick that year. He’s yet another player in a long line of Canadiens first-round picks who is no longer with the team, joining a list of players including Alex Galchenyuk, Nathan Beaulieu, Jarred Tinordi, and Mikhail Sergachev.

The pick-up is interesting for the Kings, who had first priority in claiming a player from waivers. Scherbak has shown offensive skill in major junior (55 goals and 105 assists over 130 games in the WHL for the Saskatoon Blades and Everett Silvertips) and there have been glimpses of that at the AHL level. He has struggled to show consistency at the NHL level, however.

Scherbak’s games in Laval this season were part of a conditioning stint after rehabbing a lower-body injury. He is cleared to play and was waived because there were no available roster spots on the Canadiens team. When asked about why Scherbak hadn’t gotten into an NHL game yet this season, Claude Julien stated “that his game just isn’t where it should be right now”. Per Julien, Scherbak had an “average camp”.

He was ranked #8 in Eyes on the Prize’s Top 25 Under 25 this summer, with some questions about his defense and ability to produce consistently. As a player, his potential is probably middle-six at best at this point. Like many traded or waived players, perhaps a fresh start in a new system will help Scherbak regain his form and reach his potential.

And yes, he does have a dog:

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