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Message to Flyers’ Matvei Michkov? NHL ‘Even Easier’ Than KHL

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Matvei Michkov
(Photo: HK Sochi)

Some comments SKA St. Petersburg head coach and RIHF Vice President Roman Rotenberg made earlier this month put pressure on the Philadelphia Flyers and top prospect Matvei Michkov, implying that he must play a starring role in Philadelphia right away or otherwise return to the KHL. But if any Russian prospect is equipped to make that happen, it’s Michkov.

According to Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Nikita Grebenkin, who scored the same amount of points (41) in the KHL this season as Michkov despite playing in 19 more games and being two years older, making the adjustment from the KHL to the NHL should be no problem at all.

“And the game in the playoff, yes, more or less is similar. There is nothing special there. In general, NHLs are played even easier than ours,” Grebenkin said of the two leagues’ level of play in the postseason. “They don’t create anything at all. And no difference if you are a star or on the fourth line. For example, reached the red line. Score 0-0, second period. Dump the puck into the zone and change.”

Grebenkin is not necessarily incorrect, with respect to the tight-checking style usually played in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Generally speaking, however, it is harder to compare the NHL and the KHL if for no reason other than the distinct gulf in talent level between the two leagues. The KHL almost exclusively consists of Russian players, while the NHL has a great deal of parity in nationalities.

According to Eliteprospects, the KHL is 74.7% Russian players. Conversely, the most prominent nationality in the NHL is Canadian at 42.9%, followed by American at a distant 29%. In addition, the KHL limits teams to three foreign (non-Russian) players. Simply put, the NHL boasts the greater wealth of the best players from around the globe, whether it be from North America, Europe, Russia, Asia, or otherwise.

If and when Michkov joins the Flyers, he’d be the latest among them. And perhaps playing in a simpler league, according to his peers, would help sway his decision.

“It caught my eye that there was very quick changing,” Grebenkin added. “Everything is simple. Skate, pass, fight, played into the body. Of course, everything is much faster there, because the rinks are still smaller. And direct, very masterful guys with good skating. I probably haven’t seen such a thing yet that people stand out like that.”

The Flyers were also briefly put on watch due to a scare with Alexei Kolosov, as reports suggested the player could leave the organization as a result of struggling to acclimate to North America. That wasn’t a problem for Grebenkin, and with fellow Russians Ivan Fedotov and Egor Zamula in Philadelphia ready to greet Michkov upon arrival, it likely won’t be a problem for the Flyers prospect either.

“My agent Dan Milstein helps in everything, suggests,” Grebenkin said of his acclimation to North America so far. “And the club has a very good organization where they do their job perfectly.”

Let this serve as a subliminal message to Michkov and the Flyers — the pressure for the young prospect to succeed out of the gate really isn’t as great as it seems. The Flyers just need to put Michkov in a position to succeed and the rest will take care of itself.

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