The Philadelphia Flyers hope Matvei Michkov, 7th overall selection in the 2023 NHL Draft, helps solve their lack of high end talent problem.
Over the past few seasons, there has been one glaring hole on the Flyers. That hole, their lack of high end talent, got a big boost in the 1st round of the 2023 NHL Draft.
Matvei Michkov, who many project to be the second best talent in the draft, fell all the way to the Flyers at #7.
“It does not happen very often,” Asst GM Brent Flahr said on a talent like Michkov falling to #7. “Players of this caliber, elite goal scorer, playmaker.”
Michkov, who is from Perm Russia, saw his draft stock fall ahead of the draft. Mostly due to things out of his control.
After looking past the geopolitical issues surrounding his home country, Michkov was a bit unknown to many in North American. Which, is where some of the stronger concerns came in.
Many teams in the Top 10 of the draft didn’t even know what size Michkov was ahead of the draft. This mainly due to the limited scouting available last year in Russia.
Michkov’s other major concern was his three year contract with SKA St Petersburg in the KHL. A contract that will keep the 7th overall pick in Russia until 2026.
“Everybody knows he (Michkov) has a three year contract with St. Petersburg. We’ll deal with that,” GM Danny Briere said on Michkov’s contract. “That’s not something that scared us to have a chance to take a player of his caliber at #7.”
However, for the Flyers, that fits their timeline for when they want to compete.
“I guess that means we’re gonna start winning when I get here”, Michkov jokingly said when asked about the Flyers rebuild.
The Flyers picking Michkov isn’t much about hope. It’s more on the lines of just how good Michkov could be.
Some scouts have compared Michkov to the second coming of Alex Ovechkin. Mainly due to Michkov coming with 3-points of Ovechkins draft year stats in the KHL.
Another is his scoring touch. Which was on full display at the 2021 U18 World Championships.
Michkov scored a tournament high 12-goals. Which was three more than 2022 4th overall pick Shane Wright and 2023 1st overall pick Connor Bedard.
“Strongest part of my game is I’m a goal-scorer,” Michkov told the media after being drafted. “From a young age, my dad put a lot of work into my game. He taught me the different ways of disguising my shot.”
While it was no secret the Flyers were clearly interested in Michkov, it was a secret well kept how they became so comfortable with Michkov before the draft.
After the 1st round, Assistant General Manager Brent Flahr kind of let the cat out of the bag that the Flyers hosted Michkov in Voorhees a few days before leaving for the draft. A meeting that was just the start of the Flyers falling in love with Michkov.
“When we brought him into Voorhees on Friday with his family – his brother, mother, agents, one of his close friends from Russia. Kind of a really good environment just to see him socially and see him come into rink and smile. He was excited to see the gym and there’s guys working out. Wanted to go shoot pucks; played air hockey downstairs. You know, he was generally excited to be there and we can tell his family we’re excited. He did background on the history of the Flyers. So yeah, it was it was kind of a cool meeting. It’s one of those things, for me personally, I’ve seen this kid play for a few years – this year just on video. But, for a dynamic player, I didn’t know what I was gonna get. You hear some of the rumors and when he left… we spent a couple hours had lunch. When he left that everybody, Jonesy Danny & I, felt a real comfort level. The type of kid he is. How driven he is. Think you can get that sense that when you’re talking to him that he wants to play, he wants to be the best. But, at the same time, he is a good kid. He smiles and jokes around. I think he is going to be a great player.” – Asst GM Brent Flahr on the Flyers secret meeting with Michkov in Voorhees on Friday.
There is much to like about Michkov and his game. Which Matvei himself reiterated to the media after being selected by the Flyers.
But, the biggest thing is his potential. Which, the Flyers are being cautious to label it too soon.
“We have to be careful with the word superstar,” GM Danny Briere said when asked about Michkov’s potential stardom. “If he’s a good player on our team and be a difference maker… that’s all I’m asking for right now.”
Briere added “if he turns out more than that, that would be great. We would welcome for sure. But, I’m not putting a tag like that on him.”
If Michkov can turn into the star the Flyers know that he can, the Flyers will have their first superstar player since Eric Lindros.
Photo Credit: George Walker IV – AP Photo