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Do Flyers Risk Drafting Russian Star Michkov If He’s Available?

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Matvei Michkov
Matvei Michkov

There’s a prospect in the NHL Draft who might be almost as talented as Connor Bedard.

This is the kind of talent the Flyers need. This is the kind of talent that, surprisingly, might be available when they pick at No. 7.

This is the kind of talent that, not surprisingly, might never play in the NHL.

Can the rebuilding Flyers take a chance drafting a potentially game-changing star who might never skate at the Wells Fargo Center?

But can they afford to pass over this kind of player, one who might be a cornerstone forward?

That’s the dilemma the Flyers could face in the upcoming draft, if Russian Matvei Michkov is still on the draft board. That’s a big “if.”

Most mock drafts have Michkov gone by the seventh pick, but not all of them. Marco D’Amico, of Montreal Hockey Now, predicts the Flyers will take Michkov, after the Canadiens select Ryan Leonard at No. 5. This is notable because several mock drafts have Michkov going to Montreal at 5.

Dream To Play In NHL

Michkov has said it was his lifelong dream to play in the NHL, but he likely will have several obstacles to playing in North America.

Michkov might get tangled in the geopolitics of his country’s invasion of Ukraine. The Russians might not allow star hockey players to leave the country.

Michkov is under contract to a Russian team until 2026. And, there isn’t a current transfer agreement between the NHL and the Russian Ice Federation.

His agent, Sergei Fedotov, said recently Michkov will attend the NHL draft but will return to his St. Petersburg team for the remainder of his contract.

During a recent interview with Match TV, a Russian sports channel, Michkov said he will attend the draft in Nashville on June 28-29.

“I will go to the draft itself at the end of June,” said Michkov, a 5-foot-10, 159-pound, left-shooting forward.

“It happens once in a lifetime. I can’t even imagine what will happen there, and what emotions it will be.”

Match TV asked Michkov about Bedard.

“Honestly, I don’t look now [at Bedard’s games],” Michkov said. “Because I have my games. You can see for yourself how dense the matches are in the Russian national team. I only think about my games and our team.

“Well, if I have free time, I can sometimes watch his matches. But if you say that he scores under 100 goals, then the guy is really fine. What else can I say? Bedard is a good guy. Plays great.”

Mock Drafts

The Hockey News’ Ryan Kennedy has Michkov going to the Blue Jackets at No. 3:

“I think the Jackets will do it,” Kennedy wrote. “If they believe Michkov can be the incredible offensive talent he has been so far in his career, he’ll be worth the wait.”

Michkov will go to Arizona at No. 6 predicts thescore.com: “The wild card of the draft, Michkov slides out of the top five and into Arizona’s lap. The small, dynamic winger possesses game-breaking abilities.

“He’s an elusive skater and nifty stick-handler with tremendous upside. Michkov … played for four different teams this past season, most notably piling up 20 points in 27 games for Sochi in the KHL.

“The Coyotes are in no rush to be competitive and desperately need an otherworldly talent like Michkov to sell to the local market.”

The Hockey Writers have Michkov going to the Sharks. “Michkov could very well be the biggest wild-card in the first round of the 2023 Draft … 

“I think the Sharks are in the perfect place to take a little bit of a gamble on Michkov while they take another step back next year in hopes of building a new core of young players.”

Here are some of Michkov rankings going in the draft:

The Hockey News: 4

TSN/Bob McKenzie: 4

NHL Central Scouting: 2 (EU skaters)

Sportsnet: 5

Michkov was asked by Match TV about the possibility of playing in Washington with fellow Russian Alexander Ovechkin. The Capitals pick 8th.

“Yes, that would be great. But not everything depends on me,” Michkov said. “As fate wills, so be it. You just have to be ready for everything.

“It’s probably too early for me to think about America. I am in Russia now. I will do everything possible to gain a foothold in the SKA [his team in St. Petersburg].

“This is my main task. And my future plans — America or not America — are in my secondary roles. I need to prove myself in Russia. I have to succeed as a player. Score more, give more, benefit the team more.”

Draft night will be interesting to see what the Flyers do if Michkov is available. The prudent move for a rebuilding team might be selecting the best available player — available the key word here.

But with the Flyers going into a rebuilding situation, Michkov’s likely unavailability for several years might not be a concern. If the rebuild works, the Flyers could be contending for the playoffs when Michkov can play in America.

In 2026, Michkov would be 21 years old.

————

Stanley Cup Finals:

(Vegas leads the series, 3-1)

Who: Florida Panthers at Vegas Golden Knights

What: Game 5

When: 8 p.m. Tuesday

Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas

TV: TNT

Game 6 (if necessary): Vegas at Florida, 8 p.m. Friday

Game 7 (if necessary): Florida at Vegas, 8 p.m. Monday

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Florida Hockey Now: The Miami Heat was eliminated in the NBA Finals Monday night, now the Florida Panthers hope to avoid elimination tonight at Vegas.

Boston Hockey Now: Former Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy can win the Cup tonight with Vegas.

Buffalo Hockey Now: Will Sabres use available cap room for some bold offseason moves?

Chicago Hockey Now: Could Blackhawks prospect Ilya Safonov become another Pavel Datsyuk?

Colorado Hockey Now: Ranking the Avalanche’s top five prospects.

Detroit Hockey Now: Are Red Wings looking to draft Zach Benson two spots after the Flyers’ pick?

Los Angeles Hockey Now: Kings could take a look at Capitals’ Tom Wilson to address lack of toughness and grit.

Montreal Hockey Now: Our mock draft is in!

New Jersey Hockey Now: Three possibilities for Devils to plug a hole on defense.

Pittsburgh Hockey Now: Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin could be lost in free agency.

San Jose Hockey Now: 2022 first-round pick Filip Bystedt signs with Sharks.

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