Should the Flyers Draft Matvei Michkov?

The Flyers are in full on free fall mode as the end of the 2022-23 season approaches as they have run out of gas and the difference between the playoff-bound teams and whatever it is the Flyers are these days has grown substantially after the trade deadline. They’re now eyeing the lowest possible finish and thus, another top five draft pick. One player that could potentially be on the radar is 18-year-old Russian sensation Matvei Michkov, but it’s not as easy as just selecting him and moving on; there’s a catch.

He re-signed with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL in 2021. That deal carries him until the end of the 2025-26 season. That’s three more years until he’s free to head to North America… and that’s assuming free is the key word here.

The heightened tensions from Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine has been felt in the hockey world as well, with the NHL severing its working relationship with the KHL as a result of the war. It has made player movement, especially those outgoing from Russia, very difficult.

The Flyers have already found out first hand what kind of evil can happen as part of that fallout when the Russian military kidnapped 26-year-old goaltender Ivan Fedotov shortly after he signed his entry-level deal with the club. Fedotov was the only player to be detained by the country, with Kirill Kaprizov the other who struggled, though eventually gaining entry into the U.S.

Can the Flyers afford to take a major swing like that at this current point in time?

It’s a huge risk. He may never make the jump, either through his own volition or because of government intervention, in which case it’s a complete waste of a draft pick in a deep year and the critical state the Flyers are in takes an even bigger hit.

Waiting three years for something that may never come is not a sound strategy when it comes to rebuilding either. The Flyers need this pick to be a home run and one that will have a major impact in the NHL sooner rather than later.

Though if he is able to make the trek to North America, it could be worth the wait. Minnesota Wild superstar Kirill Kaprizov didn’t make the jump until he was 23 yet he’s still one of the best scorers in the league today.

There’s a chance he could defect to the States, an action movie-esque trek of a player breaking commitments to their Russian team and fleeing to America. It’s not something we see much these days, with Evgeni Malkin in 2004 being the most recent and popular example in the post-Soviet Union world. Though, as noted, after the Fedotov situation and the general tensions of war, it may not be possible to get Michkov out of Russia even if he wanted to leave.

With 12 games still on the calendar for the Flyers and a potential finish anywhere from fifth to tenth worst, plus the lottery to decide their ultimate fate, there’s still plenty of outcomes possible for the Flyers. If they finish on the lower side, taking someone besides Michkov makes the most sense. Though if luck doesn’t break in their favor and they somehow end up around the 10th position and Michkov is still on the board maybe testing their luck could be rewarded big time for their patience.

He’s the kind of guy that could very well be a franchise changing player if he makes the leap to the NHL sometime down the road. And who knows what the world’s going to look like in three year’s time (for better or worse.) Michkov could be just the star the Flyers are missing and could swing momentum heavily in their favor when he does come over, but striking out on him would be right in line with the kind of bad luck that has befell the organization for years now. Maybe it’s best the Flyers just avoid the situation all together and look elsewhere in the draft for their next big star.

By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)

photo credit:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s