Flyers’ Briere impresses in the first round of ’23 NHL Draft

Flyers' Matvei Michkovn 2021 IIHF World Juniors
FILE – Canada’s Ryan O’Rourke (28) is checked by Russia’s Matvei Michkov (17) during the first period of an IIHF world junior hockey championships exhibition game in Edmonton, Alberta, Thursday, Dec. 23, 2021. Michkov might be the best prospect out of Russia in nearly a decade. He might be the best since Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin in 2005. But Michkov still is no lock to get drafted in the top five because he’s still under contract in the KHL for three more seasons. That’s giving NHL teams reason to worry he might never make it to North America. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
(Jason Franson/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

Daniel Briere and the Philadelphia Flyers were warming up just before the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. 

Already, the Flyers moved Ivan Provorov to the Columbus Blue Jackets in a three-team tradethen Kevin Hayes to the St. Louis Blues. Tony DeAngelo will return to the Carolina Hurricanes in a few days, changing the scenery for three skaters who needed it the most.

Smokescreens created tons of chatter. Were the Flyers looking for a trade partner on draft day? Even simple questions became complex. ‘Who will Briere choose’ didn’t have a direct, simple answer.

After all, the Flyers did not make a deal. Briere selected Matvei Michkov with the seventh overall and Oliver Bonk with the 22nd overall pick. For Briere, he nailed his first NHL Entry Draft choices.

Matvei Michkov (+)

He won over the Flyers in his interview.

Briere had all of his top prospects available to choose from. Between MichkovZach Benson, and Ryan Leonard, he chose the ‘best available’ skater with the most offensive upside.

“I’m glad to be in Philadelphia. No words. Such an emotional moment.”

Matvei Michkov; 6/28/2023

After the selection, Michkov had his translator give his first comments as a member of the Flyers. He reiterated that it is his dream to play in the NHL. Additionally, he wants to win the Stanley Cup, and that is everything Philadelphia wants. 

“It means a lot to me. It’s my dream. My dream is to also win the Stanley Cup.”

Matvei Michkov; 6/28/2023

Three teams served as big threats to pounce on Michkov. The Anaheim Ducks preferred Leo Carlsson, the San Jose Sharks enrolled the “Fresh Prince” Will Smith, and the Montreal Canadiens leaped at the chance to take David Reinbacher. The writing was on the wall for every Orange and Black faithful in Broad Street. Philadelphia salivated over the opportunity to draft Michkov, and Briere didn’t miss.

Michkov is the best winger in a 2023 NHL Entry Draft class full of highly skilled forwards. You name it, Michkov can do it in the offensive zone. He possesses superstar potential. On loan to HK Sochi in the KHL, Michkov notched 20 points (9G, 11A) in 27GP in 2022-2023.

Oliver Bonk (+)

Bonk wasn’t a surprising draft pick at 22nd overall. The Flyers got Michkov early. Once Briere acquired a forward with high-end talent, he focused on the ‘best available’ RD remaining.

In 2022-2023, Bonk made the CHL All-Rookie Team, the OHL Second All-Rookie Team, and the gold medal at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. He tallied 40 points (10G, 30A) with the London Knights with a +17 rating.

He is a defensively sound defender with an offensive upside. It wouldn’t fit to call Bonk an offensive defenseman. Bonk prioritizes a defense-first approach. It is refreshing that the Flyers are investing in a defensive defenseman because they’ve harnessed puck movers without a concept of positioning or awareness for quite some time, not helping the goaltending.

A legacy prospect, he understands what it takes to be a professional in the NHL, a character trait the Flyers will heavily appreciate as the franchise grows through the rebuild.

Day Two

Tomorrow, the second day of the 2023 NHL Entry Draft will continue with rounds two through seven. Currently, the Flyers do not have a second-round selection but carry eight more picks between three through seven.

(Jason Franson/The Canadian Press via AP, File)