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How Should Flyers Acclimate Matvei Michkov? Maple Leafs Coach Weighs In

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Matvei Michkov

Pending the announcement of his contract termination with SKA St. Petersburg and eventual signing of his entry-level contract with the Philadelphia Flyers, Matvei Michkov will be coming to a Wells Fargo Center near you this upcoming NHL season. That means in a matter of months, Michkov will be making the jump from the KHL to the NHL as a member of a Flyers team that has everything riding on him.

How should John Tortorella and his coaching staff prepare themselves and Michkov for the season? Former Flyers forward and newly-minted Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Craig Berube has a few ideas.

“Well, first of all, for me, it would start in the summer. Get him to know everything that’s going on and what’s expected,” Berube said of Michkov on The Anthony Gargano Show. “That’s really important. Getting him comfortable with the coach, and getting him comfortable with what’s expected out of him, and what I expect out of him if I was coaching him, and what he can expect from me.”

Note that Tortorella, who once coined Michkov “The Mad Russian”, has already said that stylistically, he is tailoring the Flyers around Michkov. From purely a hockey sense, there shouldn’t be a whole lot of confusion there. But putting the 19-year-old in an environment to be successful, happy, and comfortable, as Berube said, out of the gate will be paramount.

“For him to come into camp, he has to have some comfort level, you know?” Berube continued. “And, you know, then it’s a process. A young kid like that coming from Russia, as a talented player, but he’s coming into a totally different league than the KHL. It’s going to be a little bit of an awakening for him. You got to have patience and you just got to keep working with him. It’s going to be a daily process.

“Also, it’s important you get the leaders on your team to work with this kid and help him out.”

Even though Marc Staal, who was really helpful to Egor Zamula throughout the 2023-24 season, is out of the equation, the Flyers are still keying in on veteran leadership. General manager Danny Briere essentially told us, in our Flyers Q&A, that it’s Erik Johnson or bust.

Based on what I know of Johnson in my very brief time covering him, he’s going to be a big help for Michkov, even as a defenseman. He’s won a Stanley Cup and seen everything there is to see at the NHL level.

And then there’s the players Michkov will be playing with more regularly, such as Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny. It sounds like Zamula will be re-signed by the Flyers shortly, and Ivan Fedotov inked a two-year extension to remain in Philadelphia after the season ended.

Having two countrymen who can communicate with and befriend Michkov is just as important as the chemistry on the ice, and that’s something the Flyers will have to tackle daily as the process gets easier over time.

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