Flyers, Michkov: a 2023 NHL Entry Draft risk

Note: if you purchase something through one of our affiliate links, Schneps Media may earn a commission.
Flyers' Daniel Briere
FILE – Danny Briere speaks during a news conference Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015, in Voorhees, N.J. The Philadelphia Flyers have fired general manager Chuck Fletcher and promoted former franchise great Danny Briere to the interim job, according to a person familiar with the decision. The person spoke to The Associated Press on Friday, March 10, 2023, because the move had not officially been announced. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Forces greater than hockey could disrupt how teams scout prospects at the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. In the NHL, GMs must weigh risk and reward, especially if a high-end talent out of Russia is available.

The Philadelphia Flyers have a 6.5% chance of winning the ‘Connor Bedard Sweepstakes.’ If that happens, there is no risk but a high reward, the best-case scenario. If not, then the Flyers have to consider their quality options.

Matvei Michkov was the top prospect before Bedard reclaimed the spot.

His stock went to the moon after the 2021 U18 World Juniors. Then, he dipped in the KHL with SKA St. Petersburg before finding a groove with HK Sochi this season. Michkov is widely considered a top-five pick in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. He bounced back with 20 points (9G, 11A) in 27 games with HK Sochi, his best stint in the KHL.

Both Bedard and Michkov finished one-two in scoring during the 2021 U18 World Juniors. Michkov outscored Bedard, but Bedard won the gold medal for Team Canada. Had Michkov not missed two months due to injury, taking a hit from Alexei Emelin, he may be the top prospect in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft class. The talent is obvious. Other forces off the ice might depreciate his value.

Risk and Reward

If Michkov does come to the NHL, he’ll help whichever franchise drafts him. A lot of implication in that statement rides on ‘if.’

Flyers' Ivan Fedotov
February 20, 2022, Beijing, Hebei, China: PESONEN Harri of Finland #82 shoots but is stopped by goalie FEDOTOV Ivan of Russia during the Ice Hockey Men’s Gold Medal Game between Finland and Russian Olympic Committee on February 20th in Beijing, China. (Photo by Mickael Chavet/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire) ****NO AGENTS—NORTH AND SOUTH AMERICA SALES ONLY****

There aren’t any guarantees anymore about Russian players appearing in the NHL. Currently, the Philadelphia Flyers and Ivan Fedotov are separated. Before this season, the Flyers viewed Fedotov as a goaltending prospect on track to compete for a backup role to Carter Hart. Then, detained in Russia, Fedotov never made it to Philadelphia. It’s beginning to seem that he will remain with CSKA Moskva for the rest of his hockey career.

Cases like these were under an intense microscope as the NHL and KHL agreed to a ‘memorandum of understanding,’ currently suspended.

What good is a high-end talent if the player never arrives? There are safer picks to make, addressing other position needs with high-end talent. More than anything, the Flyers cannot afford to use a top-10 overall draft pick on a player that could potentially never skate in the NHL. The gray area exists, and a potential miss on a high-value draft pick would prolong or help spoil a rebuild.

Don’t Draft Michkov

Everyone realizes the high-end talent Michkov possesses. Where risk presents itself in this political climate is understood. He didn’t participate in the 2022-2023 IIHF World Juniors and is under contract with SKA St. Petersburg through 2025-2026.

He is well-embedded in Russia and still ranked second by NHL Central Scouting (EU).

However, tragedy struck last month. The Russian Hockey Federation confirmed the passing of Andrei Michkov under unexplained circumstances. An investigation is ongoing, but his father was missing for two days before being discovered in a pond. No additional updates followed.

So many of these factors are out of his control, and it’s unfair. Following that tragedy, it’s impossible to gauge if Michkov will leave Russia for the NHL at the end of 2025-2026.

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)