In 2019, Senators chief amateur scout Trent Mann selected 20-year-old forwards Viktor Lodin in the fourth round and Mark Kastelic in the fifth.
In October, Mann went to the well once more, drafting two more 20-year old forwards Erik Engstrand (fifth round) and Cole Reinhardt (sixth round).
However, there was another 20-year old passed over in two previous Drafts that the club pounced on with their 61st overall selection – Cape Breton Eagles right wing Egor Sokolov.
With the Senators’ prospect pool loaded up at centre and left wing, Mann felt a need to add potential scoring on the right side. Playing on a line with Shawn Boudrias (Minnesota) and Ryan Francis (Calgary), Sokolov notched a Quebec League career-high 46 goals. His 92-point total garnered a spot as a First Team All Star.
An alternate reason the Senators may have chosen the 2020 World Junior silver medalist so early – Sokolov attended Columbus Blue Jackets training camp on a try-out the previous September and was definitely on their radar.
At the time, Mann explained, “I realize he’s older, but over three years he scored over 100 goals at the major junior level. He’s a kid that’s committed to improving his game on and off the ice the last three years. We’ve seen a lot of growth in his game. And we just feel the right side is something we wanted to address and he fits that need.”
Sokolov progressed steadily through his three seasons with the Eagles – posting 21 goals during his rookie campaign on a roster that included current Senator Drake Batherson, and 30 the following year, prior to scoring 46 as an overage player.
The Cape Breton draft pipeline has been great for the Senators of late. In addition to Batherson and Sokolov, Kevin Mandolese, the QMJHL’s 2019-20 top goalie was the team’s sixth-round choice in 2018.
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At six-foot-four, 215 pounds, Sokolov isn’t known as a strong skater, but finds ways to be effective. The Yekaterinburg, Russia native remained in Cape Breton during the pandemic to work on his skating and assist his billet family who own a neighbourhood grocery store. After his workouts, Sokolov delivered groceries to those who were shut in.
Sokolov’s hard work has been evident through his first eight American League games for Belleville. Playing on a line with Kastelic and Reinhardt, Solokov has compiled five points (three goals, two assists) in consecutive games to lead the BSens in scoring.
🚨Egor Sokolov simply cannot be stopped
— Sens Prospects (@SensProspects) March 9, 2021
Though he’s off to a great start to his pro career, Sokolov acknowledges he has long way to go to achieve his life-long goal.
“It’s pretty tough. I’m pretty pumped. I hadn’t played games in 11 months. When I did, I was playing against guys 17 and 18 years old. Now I’m here against guys who played in the NHL. Some of the guys have had great careers. So, it’s pretty tough. I watch them and every day I try to get better. Learn the details of playing pro hockey to become better prepared every day. That’s my goal, to play in the NHL.”
Trent Mann’s brother, Troy is Belleville’s head coach, and he’s equally impressed on quickly Sokolov has adjusted to the pro game.
“I think his growth in the first few games, especially in Montreal versus Laval, you can tell he was processing the game and the systems. He was a half-second behind at times – just because at times – he was not over-thinking it, but sometimes when you’re thinking the game, your feet don’t react as quickly. So that is one of the biggest improvements I’ve seen from the first set of games until now. He’s getting his chances. He’s a big body, strong. He’s showed some quickness. There’s lots to like and I suspect he’s going to continue to get offensive chances. He’s not a slow skater, but certainly not as fast as (Alex) Formenton’s speed,” said Belleville’s bench boss.
One thing is for certain, Egor Sokolov is well-grounded and doesn’t take anything for granted.
Sokolov told Full Press NHL, “I’m enjoying being with pro hockey players. It’s a different level. It’s the next step for me. I’m thankful to just dress and skate with those guys. It’s a great experience for me, even practicing. It’s about learning details, technique, how to be quicker at my position.”