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Sergachev confident contract will get done with Lightning

Pending RFA defenseman leaving negotiations to his agent, keeping focus on playing again

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

Sergachev scores SHG from slot

TBL@BOS: Sergachev follows Cirelli with another SHG

Yanni Gourde finds Mikhail Sergachev, who scores from the slot 1:02 later for another shorthanded goal to extend the Lightning lead to 2-0

  • 00:39 •

Mikhail Sergachev said he has not talked with the Tampa Bay Lightning about a new contract, but the pending restricted free agent defenseman said he is confident it will get done.

"It's a little different obviously right now, but I'm trying to leave it to my agent (Mark Gandler)," Sergachev said Thursday. "He's going to deal with it, I guess. But for me, I just want to continue the season, play and get better and see what happens. I feel like they're going to work out something. I have a good agent."

Sergachev is one of five Lightning on the active roster who can become a restricted free agent after the season, with defenseman Erik Cernak and forwards Anthony Cirelli, Mitchell Stephens, and Carter Verhaeghe.

Sergachev said he hasn't talked to any of them about their contract situation because so much remains unknown, including what the NHL salary cap will be next season. The NHL season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

"We'll just wait and see what the salary cap is going to be like, if we're going to resume to play or not," Sergachev said. "It's still up in the air. We're kind of in limbo right now. I wish I knew and I wish I could tell you something."

The 21-year-old is in the final season of the three-year, entry-level contract he signed with the Montreal Canadiens, who selected him with the No. 9 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft and traded him to the Lightning for forward Jonathan Drouin on June 15, 2017.

Sergachev scored 34 points (10 goals, 24 assists) in 70 games this season, but most impressive has been his improvement on the defensive end. He's gained enough trust from the Lightning coaching staff to play regularly on the penalty kill, averaging 1:10 of shorthanded ice time per game this season (81:18 total) after playing a total of 17:39 in his first two seasons with Tampa Bay. He scored his first NHL shorthanded goal March 7.

Sergachev is averaging 20:22 of ice time per game, up from 17:55 last season. Tampa Bay (43-21-6) is second to the Boston Bruins in the Atlantic Division.

"Last year was a learning curve for me," Sergachev said. "I was trying to play a more defensive game, trying to get better at that. This year I felt like I learned the ropes and saw what I had to do. I just knew what I had to do and I guess I did it. Coaches started trusting me more with [penalty kill], more ice time. It all started to come together. I was having fun playing like that."

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