March 27, 2023

Top Russian eligible Michkov says it’s his “dream to play in the NHL”

Matvei Michkov is one of the top prospects for the 2023 NHL Draft.

He’s also under contract in Russia for quite some time.

Still, the 18-year-old has designs on being an NHLer in the future.

“It is my dream to play in the NHL one day,” Michkov told Mike Morreale of NHL.com via an interpreter last week. “But for now I will continue to work on my game and develop as a player at home.”

The right-winger was once considered a contender to challenge Connor Bedard for the No. 1 spot in the 2023 draft with his electric play. The offensive forward had himself an elite season, registering 20 points (nine goals, 11 assists) in 30 games in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) this season between SKA St. Petersburg and HK Sochi.

It was in Sochi he exploded. On loan since December 20, Michkov managed each of his 20 points after being loaned away from SKA St. Petersburg.

The effort gave the Perm, RUS product the second-most productive draft eligible in league history behind Vladimir Tarasenko’s 24 points (13 goals, 11 assists) in 2009-10. Tarasenko was eventually selected in the first round (No. 16) in the 2010 draft.

“It was a challenging season for Sochi, but we finished strong and I’m looking forward to continuing to build on that next season,” he said. “I played with Artur Tyanulin and Amir Garayev, but overall we have a tight group of guys. Everyone was very helpful, especially Ivan Didkovsky and Donat Stalnov.”

There’s just one complication.

Michkov’s KHL contract with SKA St. Petersburg runs through the 2025-26 season.

He might just be worth the wait, however.

Michkov’s impressive skillset has him slot No. 3 in FCHockey’s Midterm ranking for the 2023 draft, behind Bedard and Adam Fantilli of the University of Michigan.

“His skill is undeniable,” FCHockey scout Jake Janso said. “His hands work effortlessly as he moves his feet, and his ability to make the small but preferable play has improved while maintaining the wow-factor elsewhere. His shot is arguably best in class as he can really rip it both in stride and at a standstill. He beats KHL goalies cleanly already, which bodes well for the transition to the NHL.”

The fact that he likely isn’t bound for North America for another three seasons might give some reason to pause.

But it shouldn’t.

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