2023 Flyers Draft Class: Matvei Michkov

Flyers' Matvei Michkov, NHL
Matvei Michkov poses with a Philadelphia Flyers jersey after being picked by the team during the first round of the NHL hockey draft Wednesday, June 28, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

The Philadelphia Flyers entered ‘a new era of orange,’ selecting Matvei Michkov seventh overall at the 2023 NHL Entry Draft.

‘A new era of orange,’ means adapting to the changing philosophy of the NHL. The ‘Broad Street Bullies’ are a thing of the past. Daniel Briere and Keith Jones understand that. Hockey, or the way it was during the days when the ‘Broad Street Bullies’ dominated, completely changed.

Selecting Michkov represents a shift in the Flyers’ mentality. If the front office didn’t undergo a complete revamp in the last couple of months, Michkov wouldn’t be in Philadelphia. Older management would’ve preferred a strong, two-way skater who fits the old mantra of what it meant to ‘be a Flyer.’ Ryan Leonard might’ve been in Orange and Black instead.

Along with not fitting the mold of a bygone era, the old regime wouldn’t take a risk on Michkov, preferring a safer option. Michkov is under contract with the KHL through 2025-2026, and the geopolitical situation concerning Russia is a legitimate concern. It would’ve been enough to turn away the previous Flyers brass.

However, Michkov is an electric goal scorer who could potentially become an NHL superstar, or a generational talent, even. Leading up to the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, Michkov competed with Connor Bedard for top prospect honors. If Michkov wasn’t on contract in the KHL, able to play in the NHL immediately, there is an argument that he could’ve been the first overall pick, or definitely a lock at second to the Anaheim Ducks.

His talent is undeniable, but his KHL situation allowed six NHL franchises to pass, falling to the Flyers.

“To have a talent of his caliber, we didn’t think he would be available at seven.”

Daniel Briere; 6/29/2023

Rolling into a rebuild, the risk that comes with Michkov needed to be taken. The last ‘game-changing’ skater selected by Philadelphia was Claude Giroux in 2006. Before Giroux, Eric Lindros was the last ‘generational talent.’ Michkov is a game-changers throughout Russian hockey in the VHL, MHL, and KHL, as well as on the international stage. He compares to Alexander Ovechkin, Nikita Kucherov, Kirill Kaprizov, and Patrick Kane.

Briere and the Flyers’ management met with Michkov twice before drafting him on Wednesday. The first was a private meeting at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees, NJ. Then, Michkov met again in Nashville, TN before the 2023 NHL Entry Draft.

Impressed in both interviews by Michkov, Briere reached a decision.

“We were blown away by his personality and how much he seemed to love having the chance of being a Flyer. We were trying to explain that to the rest of our staff, the rest of the scouts, and they didn’t really believe us. So we brought him in for a second time, and again, he blew everybody in the room away by how smiley he was; how he kept saying he wanted to be a Flyer. So that made us feel really good.”

Daniel Briere; 6/28/2023

Michkov wanted to be a Flyer and Philadelphia wanted to welcome him. It was a mutual acceptance. With the help of his Russian translators, Michkov expressed his happiness:

“I’m extremely excited and extremely happy to be with the Philadelphia Flyers; it was dream, this was the team I wanted to be drafted by.”

Matvei Michkov; 6/28/2023

He has a contract to abide by, but once it is completed in the KHL, Michkov wants to join the NHL as soon as possible:

“To be honest, I can’t say for sure, I do have a contract. But I’m hoping as soon as I can get out, I’m going to be coming over.”

Matvei Michkov; 6/28/2023

It wasn’t an easy year for Michkov. In April, his father, Andrey, unexpectedly passed. He wants to complete the goal his father set out for him: winning the Stanley Cup.

“Right now, it’s important for me to finish the goal that my dad had for me, and that’s to win the Stanley Cup.”

Matvei Michkov; 6/28/2023

Extremely confident, Michkov always wants to win. He can be a flashy player, showing in his natural scoring abilities, and even his goal celebrations. The rebuild in Philadelphia doesn’t bother him:

“I guess that means we’re gonna’ start winning when I get here.”

Matvei Michkov; 6/28/2023

It is a selection that fits the rebuild. Over the next three seasons, the Flyers will be in the business of acquiring assets to build the future. Michkov will be 21 years old once his KHL contract expires.

The Flyers’ prospect pool is getting stronger, and some credit should be given to Chuck Fletcher for his previous drafts. Cam York, Tyson Foerster, and Cutter Gauthier are a few skaters that Fletcher noticed high upside on draft day.

Now, the Flyers added a true game-changer, which they desperately needed. Michkov, with an already blossoming prospect pool, is a massive step in the right direction. This construction brings Philadelphia closer to their next Stanley Cup; their first since 1975. Briere didn’t miss at the 2023 NHL Entry Draft.

Currently, the reward is sky-high, outweighing the risk. Michkov could be the next Flyers superstar.

(AP Photo/George Walker IV)