TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- One of the biggest surprises at the Traverse City Prospects Tournament this week has been the play of undrafted right wing Sergey Tolchinksky of the Carolina Hurricanes.
Despite his 5-8, 165-pound frame, the native of Moscow, Russia, has showcased plenty of speed and generated several chances. Tolchinsky played for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the Ontario Hockey League in 2012-13, finishing with 26 goals and 51 points in 62 regular-season games as a rookie.
He was ranked No. 118 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of the top draft-eligible North American skaters, but never did hear his name or receive a call. That day has motivated him to do whatever it takes to prove everyone wrong and he's doing just that.
"I thought I would hear my name somewhere in the second to fourth round at the draft," Tolchinsky told NHL.com. "When I came to the draft, I was 100 percent sure I would be drafted and it was so disappointing. I talked to nine or 10 teams before draft but Carolina wasn't one of the teams; they were mostly from the Eastern Conference though."
Tolchinsky was invited to the Rangers' and Hurricanes' development camps on a tryout basis in July and stood out with his stellar play and determined effort. The Hurricanes signed him to a three-year, entry-level deal on Aug. 22. He has two goals, four points and a plus-5 rating in two games at the tournament while working a line with center Victor Rask (2011 draft, No. 42).
"I was so excited and it was the happiest day of my life [after signing a contract], especially after the draft when I wasn't picked by any team," Tolchinsky said. "I was so happy and it's the next big step in my hockey career.
"Now I just need to show my best hockey again. I'll probably go back to junior the next two years because I'm not strong enough to play in NHL right now, so maybe in two years we'll see."
His English is very good and he certainly appears to be a favorite among all the players and coaches in the locker room. Carolina prospect coach Jeff Daniels has enjoyed instructing the young Russian wing.
"He opened a lot of eyes over the summer in Carolina and, just by doing that, earned himself a contract," Daniels told NHL.com. "He's an exciting player to watch, funny and loves to play. He has a great personality, competes and can score and finish. He's not afraid to go to those tough areas and take a hit, score a goal. His goal in our opener was one of the prettiest goals I saw … I was in awe on the bench."