June 28, 2023

Matvei Michkov draft mystery solved with Flyers selection

One of the biggest stories on day one of the 2023 NHL Draft was always going to surround Russian prospect Matvei Michkov.

Where was he going to go?

How far was the uber-talented winger going to fall?

After Connor Bedard was taken by the Chicago Blackhawks, after the Anaheim Ducks surprised and selected Leo Carlsson over Adam Fantilli, after the Columbus Blue Jackets quickly nabbed Fantilli up, and San Jose Sharks, Montreal Canadiens, and Arizona Coyotes each passing on the dynamic Russian forward, Philadelphia Flyers general manager Daniel Briere and president of hockey operations Keith Jones ended debate and speculation with the selection that solved the mystery.

“I’m not too surprised that he went at No. 7, but I thought someone would be willing to swing on him earlier as I think he should’ve been a top-4 target,” FCHockey crossover scout Jake Janso said. “I think Philly could be a great spot for him. They are building a fairly dynamic top core and if they give him the time he needs he’ll be the cornerstone of their offense for quite some time.”

Of all the questions surrounding Michkov, one that never seemed up for debate was whether or not he’d be the first Russian player selected. In what could be considered the first reach of the night, theCoyotes chose defenseman Dmitri Simashev at No. 6 overall — one pick before Michkov.

The Flyers reportedly met twice with Michkov after he arrived in Nashville, believing there was a chance the skilled winger could be available at the time of their pick, but The City of Brotherly Love will likely have to wait three years for Michkov’s KHL contract to expire before seeing their shiny new toy on NHL ice.

Briere didn’t seem too concerned.

“It is what it is,” Briere told ESPN. “We know he has got a contract for three more seasons. But for us, we just felt after watching him play and after meeting him, we just felt it’s a talent that we cannot pass up and if we have to wait, we’ll wait.”

Michkov will return to Russia and SKA St. Petersburg, but would like to make his debut in North America as soon as possible.

“To be honest, I can’t say for sure,” Michkov told media through his translator. “I do have a contract, but I’m hoping as soon as I can get out, I’m going to be coming over.”

While the Flyers seem to be in complete rebuild mode, Michkov jumps to the top of the team’s prospect pool.

The dynamism of Michkov’s game makes him a potential game-breaker, capable of breaking the 100-point threshold during his career.

“Michkov is exactly what the Flyers have been missing, a game-breaking, elite scoring talent, and he’ll be the future face of hockey in Philadelphia when he comes over from Russia,” FCHockey crossover scout Brandon Holmes said. “They’ll have to wait to get him into their lineup, but good things come to those who wait.”

While most prospects would use their draft position as motivation to prove the doubters wrong, Michkov feels he landed in the perfect spot.

“No, to be honest, not at all, because I really wanted to be drafted by the Flyers,” Michkov said. “That was my goal. I’m very proud and very happy to be a part of this organization.”

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