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Another Twist In Matvei Michkov’s Draft Journey

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Matvei Michkov

Matvei Michkov is the NHL Draft’s great unknown. His skills are known. His availability is not.

The Russian is under contract until 2026 in his home country. His talent is such that he is considered a potential top-5 pick next week. But he also could fall to the Flyers at No. 7.

With the political uncertainty in Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, will Michkov have to honor his contract? Does he want to play in Russia until 2026? Will he be able to play hockey in North America? Teams might be hesitant to draft Michkov as highly as his talent dictates. Teams might seek more clearly defined choices.

In a more stable world, Michkov might have been the No. 2 pick after Connor Bedard. The Red Line Report, a scouting service, ranks Michkov second behind Bedard in this year’s draft class. It says Michkov “would have been #1 overall in 8 of the last 10 drafts.”

Now, there’s a twist.

Hard To Pin Down

On his 32 Thoughts podcast, Elliotte Friedman reported teams haven’t been able to set up meetings with Michkov before the draft, as is customary.

“Teams want to get to know who they’re dealing with here,” Friedman said on the podcast.

“What I’m hearing is that in Russia, the teams that could get there to meet him, it wasn’t easy to get to talk to him.

“You would try to talk to him, set up appointments. He just wasn’t interested.

“Like someone said to me the only way you could really get to talk to him was if you physically got to him right after a game and talked to him for a couple of minutes.”

There is speculation that Michkov is angling to be drafted by a specific team. Jeff Marek, co-host of 32 Thoughts, said he believes Michkov wants to be drafted by Washington. Two of the best Russian players in the league play in Washington — Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov.

When a team invests in a first-round pick, they want to know everything about the player before the draft.

Say Michkov is available at 7. Would the Flyers draft him without getting to know him and thoroughly interviewing him? I don’t think so — even though his talent is something the Flyers need.

Michkov said he would not attend the NHL Combine earlier this month and he did not. He said he would attend the draft in Nashville on June 28-29.

Maybe it’s simply a communications problem in getting Michkov set up with NHL teams either in Russia or when he arrives in the United States. Maybe it’s more manipulative. You get one chance to make a good first impression.

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Flyers, In Case You Missed It:

Flyers’ rebuild won’t look like the unique way Vegas built its team.

Flyers have five picks in first 103 selections to jump-start their rebuild.

Flyers fans are slightly upbeat over the offseason, so far.

Around The National Hockey Network:

Buffalo Hockey Now: Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson just isn’t a fit for the Sabres.

Chicago Hockey Now: Even with Connor Bedard going to the Blackhawks, their rebuild will take time.

Detroit Hockey Now: Could forward Zach Benson land with Red Wings at No. 9 in the draft?

Florida Hockey Now: The Panthers knew they missed their chance for all-time greatness.

Los Angeles Hockey Now: Kings need to set realistic expectations.

Montreal Hockey Now: Comparing draft-pick value of GM Kent Hughes and former GM Marc Bergevin.

New Jersey Hockey Now: Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald doesn’t “wholeheartedly believe” in salary hierarchy.

Pittsburgh Hockey Now: Is trading down for extra picks worth it for Penguins?

Vegas Hockey Now: That was some wild Stanley Cup parade in Las Vegas.

Washington Hockey Now: Capitals make qualifying offer to defenseman Martin Fehervary.

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