Sergei Andronov is a quick, technical winger from KHL’s Lada Togliatti who was drafted last June by the St. Louis Blues with the 78th overall pick. Hockey’s Future spoke to him about his career, his style of play and some things he likes.
HF: Were you expecting to be picked in the draft?
SA: The call arrived a bit unexpectedly as this summer. No one from the NHL contacted me or asked me questions. But I followed the draft closely, paying a big attention to its results. After all I really wanted to be picked up this year.
HF: Do you think that it was your good performance at the WJC what turned NHL attention into you?
SA: I think it’s the most probable thing. I played well in that tournament, maybe they wanted to see more of me but I don’t think that they had any more chances to see me, even if I played in the 2007 [U-18 WJC] in Finland, where we won the gold medal.
HF: What do you know about the St. Louis Blues?
SA: I know almost nothing about St. Louis, it’s not a club that I followed much. I know that they changed the staff and they started rejuvenating the team and I think that it’s not bad for me. After they drafted me I started focusing more on this team. (smiles)
HF: Can you tell us about your contract situation with KHL’s Lada Togliatti?
SA: I am in the last year of my contract in force with Lada. Then I will be a restricted free agent.
HF: Considering the hard financial times for Lada, do you think you’ll have to find yourself a new team?
SA: Yes, now there is a hard situation at my home club, probably like in many other KHL teams. A while ago it was unlikely that Lada would play in the Russian league because it had financial problems. Now it looks like it’s all right. I’m happy to play for Lada, the coach trusts me and I get enough ice time, youngsters do need that. I’m going to look for a new team only in the next year! (smiles)
HF: When are you planning to leave to North America?
SA: I’d play another couple of years in Russia to get some more experience. I think that in order to leave for America you have to be a high-level player here.
HF: Are you willing to spend time in the AHL prior hitting the big stage in the NHL?
SA: I guess that it’s normal, when the players having came to America, spend some time in the AHL at the beginning. Then it will depend on me. But I think that I shouldn’t spend much time in the AHL.
HF: Why didn’t you report to St. Louis’ prospect camp in early July?
SA: I couldn’t go because at that time I had to prepare for the new season together with my team. Besides the next season in Lada is considered to be very important for me, because it may determine my future career.
HF: How is your English?
SA: I’m not that good in English. I studied a bit while on vacations, but I’ve got no further experience of talking since that time. But I think that in some time I will learn it, especially because I have the desire.
HF: Where and at what age did you start playing hockey?
SA: I started playing hockey at 6 in my birth city Penza, there is a good [hockey] school there.
HF: Did you always play as a forward?
SA: At first I played center a lot. When I moved to Togliatti I played center for another couple of years, then the coach moved me to the wing, where I still play. But I consider myself as an universal player, I could play even on defense! (smiles)
HF: How many years have you been in Lada’s system and how do you like it at the club?
SA: I’ve played for Lada for five years already, I moved there when I was 15. I’m already accustomed here, I like the city. I like everything here. The only thing is that here they aren’t building a new arena. Here I became a player. (smiles)
HF: What are your top strengths and weaknesses?
SA: Honestly I don’t like such kind of questions. And usually I’m really self critical in hockey. I think that my top feature is that I can bring the team on my shoulders when the game gets tough! And my weak point is probably the finishing.
HF: What specific aspects of your game do you think you need to improve?
SA: I think one needs to work on everything, once again I say that the game practice helps a lot. Thanks to my coach for the trust. (smiles)
HF: You were a member of the Russian WJC team. What happened to the team in the last minute of the semifinals against Canada?
SA: The game was really intense, unfortunately there were some mistakes in the end of the game, which turned out to be a defeat. There were different reasons: we were probably tired, there were many penalties in the game. It’s not easy to keep the composure in such games. And, of course, you can’t make it through without luck. I think that we played fairly well and should have get into the finals.
HF: What can you say about your linemates in the WJC?
SA: I’ve played with Evgeny Grachev (NYR) and Nikita Filatov (CBJ). Hard-working, talented players and good guys. I think that they will do well overseas, I’ve played with them with pleasure and I’d do it again if possible.
HF: Was it good to play under WJC head coach Sergei Nemchinov?
SA: Generally speaking the coaching staff was good, all went good. Nemchinov was a player himself and thus he knows his stuff.
HF: In Russia they are now preparing the project of the new pan-Russian junior league, the Molodezhnaya Hockey League. What do you think about this?
SA: I think that the MHL it’s a good project for Russian hockey, a new level of play. I think that the conditions will be better than in the old First League. But this is only the first season, we’ll see how it turns out.
HF: What do you like to do in your spare time?
SA: I don’t have much free time, usually I simply stay at home and have a rest. Once on vacation, I actively rest. (smiles)
HF: What’s your favorite book?
SA: The Witch of Portobello, by Paulo Coelho.
HF: And your favorite movie?
SA: “Lyubov i golubi” (an old Soviet comedy), if you know such a movie, of course. (smiles)
HF: Stanley Cup or Olympic gold?
SA: Stanley Cup!