Not many were ready to gamble on Sergei Tolchinsky last year when he scored 14 goals for CSKA Moscow in what was probably his best season at the senior level. Certainly not the Red Army. Last year, the forward was approached by Avangard Omsk in the offseason, and CSKA decided not to match the Hawks’ offer and allowed the flamboyant winger to become a key player for Bob Hartley’s team.
In the most recent, 2020-2021 season, playing on the Hawks’ top-scoring unit, Tolchinsky broke out offensively, recording career-best marks with 46 (15+31) points in 51 regular-season games. Avangard finished up as the second seed in the Eastern Conference, and Tolchinsky continued his standout play in the playoffs leading the club with 20 (6+14) points through 24 games. If that’s not enough, Tolchinsky also scored the championship-clinching goal, in a 1-0 victory, to help Avangard Omsk run to their first Gagarin Cup. He was then awarded KHL Playoffs MVP honors in collecting his second Gagarin cup after being on the Red Army’s roster in 2018-2019.
With the teams still stuck at zero in the first period, CSKA failed to clear the puck after a prolonged stint by the Hawks in the offensive zone. Tolchinsky then picked up the puck at the blue line, sending it right to game seven’s hero Oliwer Kaski. The Finn blueliner skated deep in the zone, went behind the Red Army’s crease, and found back Tolchinsky on the right circle, who sent it home with a fast snap that beat Lars Johansson blocker-side. It was the perfect revenge for the Moscow native forward, who was snubbed by his former team in last year’s offseason.
Sergei Tolchinsky was born in Moscow on Feb. 3, 1995, and played in his early career with the White Bears and CSKA. In 2011-2012, he had an excellent rookie season with the Red Army’s junior team in the JHL, posting 34 (19+15) points, playing side-to-side with players like Nikita Gusev, Nikita Kucherov, Mikhail Naumenkov, Igor Ozhiganov, and many others. Despite being younger than all the players mentioned above, he ended fourth in scoring for the Red Army. In the same season, Tolchinsky was a highlight for the gold-medal winning Russian team at the U17 WHC, where he was also named in the post-tournament All-Star team after potting three goals in the competition.
However, after starring for the Red Army in the JHL, Tolchinsky opted to continue his junior career in North America with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League.
The Muscovite had another excellent debut season with his new team, producing 51 (26+25) points for the Greyhounds. Undrafted in the NHL, Tolchinsky was then signed to a three-year entry-level contract with the Carolina Hurricanes. He was consequently assigned back to the Greyhounds to continue his development in the 2013-2014 season. After his second season in Ontario, he made his professional debut in a single game with the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL to end the year.
In the 2015-2016 season, his first entire professional season, Tolchinsky was recalled to the senior team to make his NHL debut with the Carolina Hurricanes. In his final year with the Hurricanes, Tolchinsky continued his development in the AHL for the 2017-2018 season. Unable to add to his NHL experience, Tolchinsky appeared in 43 regular-season games for 26 (7+19) points.
However, after appearing in only four games in the NHL, it was announced that Tolchinsky had returned to his former club CSKA Moscow, on an initial try-out basis for the 2018-2019 season.
It wasn’t easy for Tolchinsky to win a full-time spot with CSKA. In a stacked lineup, the Red Army didn’t always have room in the roster for the fast-skating winger, especially in his first season after returning from overseas. With that being said, he was on the roster for CSKA’s first Gagarin Cup triumph in 2019. However, in the next season, Tolchinsky had a much more significant role, especially in the second part of the campaign. With the season canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the forward potted a record 14 goals, but that was not enough for CSKA to renew the ties with Tolchinsky.
What happened later is now history. Tolchinsky joined Avangard, and not only he helped the Hawks grabbing their first Gagarin Cup triumph, but he did so as the playoffs’ MVP and author of the title-clinching goal. And now, he has a tremendous chance to bring his talent up to the international stage at the upcoming IIHF World Championship in Latvia.