We’re not going to pretend we understand Russia or the Russian mindset and how that affects Philadelphia Flyers prospect Matvei Michkov. But we understand common sense and logic — not that it necessarily would apply to the Russian hockey infrastructure.
Fact: Michkov was a healthy scratch for the KHL’s first two games of the regular season.
Fact: His coach said Michkov sat because he has to earn playing time and that he’s the 13th forward.
Questions: If Michkov is one of the best young talents in Russia, why not play him? Are these Mike Keenan-era mind games?
Fact: Michkov played in SKA’s third game. Sat out the fourth game.
Fact: Michkov played 11 shifts for 6 minutes, 12 seconds in the third game. Zamboni drivers get more ice-time.
Speculation: Is he being punished for saying he wanted to play in the NHL, for the Flyers, after he was drafted in June? Michkov talked about wanting to win the Stanley Cup. Is he hurt? Is it impolitic to talk about winning the Cup when you’re a Russian?
What’s the Future?
Now what? The KHL is only a week into its season. The Flyers’ lack of control over Michkov’s development must be troubling to the organization. Sure, Michkov probably is best served by more ice-time. But there is more uncertainty than clarity regarding Michkov.
Another troubling aspect of Michkov’s handling is if the dispute among the Flyers, NHL, IIHF and Russian Ice Hockey Federation over goalie Ivan Fedotov somehow affects Michkov.
The IIHF ruled this summer that Fedotov had a valid contract with the Flyers. It ruled that Fedotov couldn’t play in Russia until Jan. 1.
Well, it took one game for the Russians to defy the IIHF sanction. He played one game and was his team’s backup in the next two. Even dressing for a game violates the sanction.
If I’m the Flyers, this is my biggest fear: In the Russians’ minds, are Fedotov and Michkov somehow connected? Are the Russians getting back at the IIHF, NHL and Flyers by sitting Michkov?
And what can the Flyers do about it? Michkov is under contract in Russia for three years and he said he intends to honor the contract. The Russians hold all of the cards.
It wouldn’t be a trade in the traditional sense but how about some kind of Michkov-for-Fedotov swap?
The Flyers would like to have Fedotov play in North America but given their stacked goaltender room, they don’t *need* him.
The Flyers *need* Michkov. He is considered one of the centerpieces of the Flyers’ rebuild, a potential superstar forward. He is one of the few glimmers of hope the Flyers have given their fans recently.
Maybe the Flyers can work something out with the Russians …
quid pro quo
something given or received for something else
also : a deal arranging a quid pro quo.
OK, Russia, you guys like Fedotov so much, you can keep him. We’ll stop bugging you about Fedotov’s contract. We’ll ask the IIHF to drop the sanctions. He’s yours. He helped you guys win a silver medal in the 2022 Winter Olympics and he’s said he’s happy in Russia.
Just send Michkov to Philadelphia. Straight-up deal.
Look, we know the world doesn’t work this way. This is a fun exercise. Nobody’s meeting at the old Checkpoint Charlie to swap players. But this dilemma seems pretty basic: These two Flyers prospects are in Russia. One isn’t playing and probably should be. The other is playing while sanctioned not to be.
Can’t something be worked out? Can’t we get two hockey players who want to play hockey on the ice playing hockey?
If Michkov wants to come to the NHL, as he said, he should be all-in to come early. Especially since he’s isn’t playing much in Russia.