It’s undeniable that defenseman Mikhail Sergachev is a key component of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and it’s clear that Tampa Bay came out on top in the Drouin-Sergachev trade from six years ago.
Last year, Sergachev signed an 8-year, $68M ($8.5M AAV) extension, putting him under increased pressure to deliver a career-best season, which he accomplished with flying colors. In his sixth year with Tampa Bay, he recorded 10 goals, 64 points, and 27 power play points, the latter two of which were career highs. For the first time in his NHL career, he led all Lightning skaters in regular season ice time, logging approximately 1,881 minutes.
Sergachev’s exceptional regular season performance came at the perfect time as Victor Hedman’s offensive production declined significantly after his own career-best season in 2021-22. Furthermore, Sergachev took over the role of “power play quarterback” from Hedman this past season.
However, Sergachev’s performance took a nosedive once the playoffs began. In the six games against the Maple Leafs, he had a 5 on 5 On-Ice Goals % of just 36.4%, placing him 42nd out of 57 defensemen with at least 100 5-on-5 minutes logged in the playoffs, per Money Puck. In the regular season, he was at 55%, and he was a -4 in six playoff games.
Of the three Toronto overtime winners in the first round, Mikhail Sergachev was on the ice for one of them and took the penalty that led to the game-winning power-play goal in game four.
It’s not my intention to denigrate Sergachev as a player, but as a player in his prime, who just signed a massive contract extension, he must perform better when it matters most. He does bear some responsibility for the first-round exit, but there’s plenty of blame to go around. Nonetheless, he will remain a fantastic player on the Lightning team for years to come. He is physically imposing, has a great offensive instinct, and is a key component of the Lightning’s success. Although Victor Hedman may have passed the torch as the team’s primary offensive defenseman and maybe even overall number one defenseman. Sergachev will have to perform as the elite player that everyone expects if the Lightning want to remain Cup contenders.