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Matvei Michkov: Grant McCagg doubts he’ll be drafted in the first round
Matvei Michkov is quite a field hockey player. The 18-year-old Russian forward has been turning heads for the past few years, and is clearly in a class with Connor Bedard and Adam Fantilli among the top prospects in the upcoming draft.

That said, there’s one problem with Mishkov: he’s Russian and he plays in Russia. The context of war with Ukraine and doubts about whether he’ll ever make it to the NHL mean that he’s often placed behind the leading duo (and even trio, if you include Leo Carlsson).

Yet, while many expect Michkov to emerge in the top-5 regardless, Grant McCagg made a rather inflammatory statement yesterday: he has his doubts that Michkov will be drafted in the first round.

How does McCagg come to such a conclusion? Based on an article in the Russian media outlet Kommersant, the KHL is determined to discourage its players from leaving the league. The Russian circuit wants to set up programs to achieve this, including one linked to compulsory service in the Russian army.

Kommersant doesn’t offer much in the way of details, but it’s reminiscent of the case of Ivan Fedotov, who never made it to North America because he never completed his compulsory military service.

In the same article, however, we learn that for the past year (since the start of the war in Ukraine), the NHL has suspended its agreement with the KHL regarding recognition of the Russian circuit. Basically, this means that contracts signed in the KHL are no longer recognized by the NHL, so a KHL player could come to North America before the end of his contract.

This means that, theoretically, Michkov could make the jump to the NHL (or the AHL, let’s say) as early as the 2023-24 season, not just in three years’ time.

That said, no KHL player has exercised this right to date, and I’m inclined to believe that the KHL will make sure that Michkov isn’t the first to do so(especially since he doesn’t seem to want to make the jump immediately). It hurts my heart to even raise the possibility, but I sincerely hope that the death of Matvei’s father isn’t connected to all this.

In short, this will be a situation to watch, but unlike McCagg, I expect to see Michkov come out in the first round of the draft (and rather early, at that). The question is which team will select him and, more importantly, when he’ll make the jump to North America.

In bursts

– Obviously.

– Great read.

– Big news for the Jets.

– I don’t think this should hold the CH back , though.

– They will face either the Canadians or the Swiss in the final.

– Thatcher Demko seems to be in Vancouver to stay.

– Nick Nurse reflects on the Raptors’ season (and his future). My text on the subject.

– This was to be expected.

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