RALEIGH — Invited to the Carolina Hurricanes' prospect development camp in July, Sergey Tolchinsky was looking to make a favorable impression.
The Russian forward did -- with his speed, skill, scoring, attitude and personality.
The Canes on Thursday signed Tolchinsky to a three-year, entry-level contract. It will pay him $550,000 at the NHL level or $55,000 at the American Hockey League level in the first year; $550,000 in the NHL or $67,500 in the AHL in the second year; and $575,000 in the NHL or $67,500 in the AHL in the third year. He also received a $150,000 signing bonus.
Tolchinsky, 18, played this past season for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). He finished with 26 goals and 25 assists, and a plus-8 plus/minus rating in 62 regular-season games.
But when the 2013 NHL Entry Draft was held at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., Tolchinsky did not hear his name called. He attended the New York Rangers rookie camp just after the draft, then was invited to Carolina's camp.
What the 5-8, 165-pound Tolchinsky lacked in size, he made up for with energized play on the ice. He scored twice in a scrimmage at PNC Arena, causing Canes coach Kirk Muller to say, "He's probably the biggest surprise or explosive guy this week. He plays hard and he produces."
Tolchinsky, a Moscow native, shrugged off any concerns about his lack of size, noting, "Everyone says my size is a bad thing but I think it's a good thing in that being smaller I can be faster and quicker. I love fast hockey."
Tolchinsky will be competing for the Hurricanes next month in the Traverse City (Mich.) rookie tournament hosted by the Detroit Red Wings. Others on the Canes' 22-man roster are forward Elias Lindholm, Carolina's first-round draft pick this year, and defenseman Ryan Murphy, the team's first-round pick in 2011.
The Canes open the eight-team event Sept. 5 against the New York Rangers, then face the Columbus Blue Jackets Sept. 6 before finishing round-robin play against the Buffalo Sabres on Sept. 8. Each of the eight teams play a final game Sept. 9 to determine final tournament ranking.
Carolina won the event in 2009. Zach Boychuk and former Canes center Brandon Sutter scored and Mike Murphy was in net as the Canes topped the Minnesota Wild 4-1 in the title game.
NOTE; The Charlotte Checkers, the Canes' AHL affiliate, announced Thursday they will play two games at PNC Arena -- Feb. 14 and Feb. 16, both against Abbotsford. The games are scheduled during the NHL's Olympic break for the 2014 Winter Games.
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