BROSSARD - After getting a taste of NHL hockey back in January, Nikita Scherbak is hoping to establish himself at the top level on a full-time basis.
Called up in the early days of 2017, the Russian forward played three games with the big club, scoring his first NHL goal in his very first game, against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Video: MTL@TOR: Scherbak scores nifty PPG for first NHL goal
"It may have only been a week-long call-up, but for me it felt like forever. It will always stick in my mind, I'll remember that forever. The guys were all nice to me," Scherbak recalled after Tuesday morning's practice for Team B in Brossard. "It gave me a lot of confidence, for sure. Those three games were huge for me, it was an unbelievable experience. I learned a lot, even from practices, it was just nice to be around.
"When I was up, I was just trying to work from everything, any detail that I could pick up," he went on. "How the guys shoot on net, how they play D-zone coverage, their forechecking. I was trying to catch every detail that I could."
Video: Scherbak on his goals for camp
Now in his fourth training camp with the team, the Canadiens' first-round choice (26th overall) in 2014 wants to do more than just make a good impression.
"I want to make the team. I feel more comfortable, I'll be honest, than before," indicated Scherbak, who spent the summer training in Montreal, as he had done last year. "I don't know why, maybe because I'm older. I feel comfortable for sure.
"I've been trying to shoot a lot, getting more pucks to the net. I'm usually looking for a pass, but now if I have an opportunity to shoot the puck, I'll take it," he continued. "I'm trying to be better down-low, in the corners."
When asked about the 21-year-old, Claude Julien affirmed that Scherbak would have the opportunity to prove his worth, just like anyone else taking part in training camp.
"The more training camp has gone on, I can see that he is adjusting well to the pace at the NHL level. He's working hard; it's up to him to keep it up," explained Julien. "Scherbak is another guy who will be able to demonstrate his abilities in our exhibition games."
Video: Charles Hudon on Nikita Scherbak
If the head coach hasn't been able to give No. 38 a good, hard look just yet, the same can't be said for Charles Hudon, Scherbak's teammate in the AHL going back to the 2015-16 season.
"His first year with us was harder, but he had a strong finish with us last year. [Chris] Terry and I were with him for the last 20 games," recounted Hudon, who was drafted by the Habs in 2012, two years prior to Scherbak. "We talked to him a lot"
"I kind of played the role of the veteran with him, we helped each other out. He chirped me, I chirped him," concluded a smiling Hudon. "It's always fun to have that kind of chemistry in the locker room."