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Matvei Michkov: the risks associated with his candidacy must be denied

Matvei Michkov. Here’s a prospect who could hardly be more polarizing for the next draft, which takes place in just under a month’s time in Nasville.

And why is that? Mainly because of his talent and everything that surrounds him (contract, Russian factor, attitude, etc.), but also because the Canadiens may have a big decision to make in his case.

And as Jesperi Kotkaniemi knows, everything is bigger in Montreal.

What makes it bigger is that the Habs won’t be able to miss out. If he’s available, a big decision will have to be made by the club’s top brass.

Why do I say that? Because, if the Habs follow through with their plan, next year they won’t be drafting fifth, they’ll be drafting much higher. So, ideally, 2023 is the last year with such a high draft pick.

And with the Panthers in the Stanley Cup Final, the CH won’t be drafting 17th. So there’s no safety net if pick #5 doesn’t turn out to be what you think.

All this to say that the CH can’t go wrong. If they don’t draft Michkov (assuming he slips out of the top-4) and he becomes a star elsewhere, it will be a disaster. And if they do draft him and the red flags are true, that will be ugly too.

To get a better picture of the situation, Anthony Martineau (TVA Sports) went straight to the source to talk to people who know the prospect inside out, to set the record straight.

The journalist spoke to Daniel Bochner, who is part of the coaching group in St Petersburg, and to Dmitri Zavgorodniy, who played with the young man this season in Sochi.

The result? Both men have nothing but good things to say about him. Obviously, his coach won’t speak out against him, but he’s not obliged to sing his praises either.

What’s interesting is that the SKA team has no intention, according to Bochner, of being disloyal in their techniques to keep the young man in town towards the end of his contract. It’s a fear that often circulates.

We know the coach won’t say otherwise publicly, but he has a good point to back himself up : Michkov has been loaned out to another KHL club, even though he was helping SKA’s school club more.

Why? Because his development is more important than the club.

That’s all very well to say now, but it’ll be the same when he’s a star in 2026. After all, SKA always lets its stars leave for the NHL once their contract is up.

Let’s get one thing straight: SKA doesn’t hold athletes against their will.

Since I joined the club, Artem Zub, Vladislav Gavrikov, Alexander Barabanov, Igor Shesterkin, Artemi Panarin, Kirill Marchenko, Vasily Podkolzin and Andrei Kuzmenko have all left for the NHL at the end of their contracts. – Daniel Bochner

Mishkov is a player who wants to play in the NHL, and he’s going to do whatever it takes to get there. Dmitri Zavgorodniy recounts how the prospect often asked him about North America.

He aspires to play in the best league in the world.

The two speakers then deconstructed the myths about Mishkov having an attitude problem, and praised his field hockey IQ, his puck protection game (despite his size) and the way he wants to become a leader of men.

He’ll have to work on his skating, but he’s got three years left to do so.

A 100-point season is therefore not impossible, according to Zavgorodniy. He’s not the first to say such things about Mishkov, since his potential is well known.

We all know his potential.


Speaking of Michkov, let’s note that this morning, Philippe Cantin of La Presse penned a piece on diplomatic relations between the NHL and Russia.

Basically, he’s not afraid of Russia preventing Michkov from crossing the ocean.

In his view, the NHL’s acceptance of Russian players not wearing the Pride jersey shows that Gary Bettman wants to maintain good relations with the Russians.

So he’s not afraid of never seeing Michkov in North America if the CH were to draft him.

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