Tolchinsky gets opportunity in Hurricanes first preseason game

Young winger will play alongside Staal, Nordstrom in DC

Christine T. Nguyen—The North State Journal
Carolina Hurricanes wing Sergei Tolchinsky (61) and defenseman Brett Pesce (22) take part in a practicescrimmage on Friday

RALEIGH — Odds are Jordan Staal will center Joakim Nordstrom and Andrej Nestrasil when the Hurricanes open their season Oct. 13 in Winnipeg. But Monday when Carolina plays their first preseason game in Washington, Sergey Tolchinsky will take Nestrasil’s place.”It’s going to a great experience for me,” Tolchinksy said following practice at PNC Arena Monday before the team headed to D.C. for the game. “They’re really skilled players. I think it will be really fun to play with them and maybe pick something up from them and learn something. I’m looking forward to play with them. It’s going to be great.”One thing Tolchinsky, 21, should bring to the line is some offensive flair. The normal trio of Nordstrom-Staal-Nestrasil made their mark last season by shutting down the opposition’s top line and using their size to cycle in the offensive zone.Tolchinksy, listed at 5-foot-8, 170 pounds, relies on his shiftiness and stickhandling to beat opposing defenders. And from the Traverse City prospect tournament through Sunday’s Red-White scrimmage, Tolchinksy has been able to produce points by scoring goals or setting up teammates.”I think it’s a really good opportunity for Sergey,” assistant coach Steve Smith, who will run the bench in Bill Peters’ absence Monday, said. “I think he’s certainly deserved it. He came into camp in very, very good shape. He’s worked hard every single day. He’s competed really hard, and he’s been given an opportunity with two really good players.”Tolchinsky — who had 14 goals and 22 assists with the Charlotte Checkers in his first pro season last year — might be known for dangling around defenders, but he said both Staal and Nordstrom have the skill to create plays as well.”I wouldn’t say they’re really straight [forward], they have tons of skill, too,” he said. “They’re working hard and both have a great shot. They both can see the ice really good. So I don’t think they’re pretty straight, they’re really creative, too.”Smith said if Tolchinsky keeps working hard he should find success with the two Hurricanes’ regulars.”I don’t think there’s anybody in the league that wouldn’t feel blessed to have an opportunity to play with Jordan Staal, and that will do nothing but elevate Sergey’s game,” Smith said. “Because Jordan does work hard every shift and Sergey will have to work to keep up to those two.”It’s a chance for Tolchinsky to make a case for himself as being in the mix for a roster spot in two-and-a-half weeks against the Jets.”I feel confident, I feel comfortable,” Tolchinksy said. “I hope I’m not going to be really nervous during the game. Just gotta play my game, do my job.”NotesTeuvo Teravainen and Sebastian Aho made their training camp debut Monday, skating with the second group of players who will not play in Monday’s exhibition.Eddie Lack was scheduled to start and play two periods in net Monday, with Alex Nedeljkovic slated to play the third.Defenseman Haydn Fleury returned to the ice after missing time following a lower body injury suffered in overtime of the Traverse City tournament opener. Nestrasil and Victor Rask were both out of yellow, no-contact jerseys at Monday’s practice. Tyler Ganly, who was hurt on a hard hit against the boards by Brendan Woods late in Sunday’s scrimmage, was having an MRI on his left shoulder Monday.Lines for tonight (in no particular order) as they were at practice:Nordstrom-Staal-Tolchinsky
Nedeljkovic• Forward Brad Malone and goalie Drew MacIntyre, who were with Carolina and Charlotte, respectively, last season, are set to suit up for the Capitals tonight. Malone is on a two-way contract with Washington, while MacIntyre is on a professional tryout with the Caps.• The game is at 7 p.m. and can be heard on 99.9 The Fan.