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Matvei Michkov left a good impression on Kent Hughes
Just over 24 hours remain before the start of the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. With the exception of Connor Bedard at number one, the rest of the auction is likely to hold a ton of surprises.

And it’s especially at number five, the Canadiens’ pick, that it’s going to get even more intriguing. Right now, Adam Fantilli, Leo Carlsson and Will Smith are all expected to come in between the second and fourth spots, and after that, nothing is quite as clear-cut.

That said, the big unknown is Matvei Michkov. The Russian forward, one of tomorrow’s top prospects, comes with his share of questions, but he’s unquestionably better than anyone after the top-4.

And he’s possibly better than some of the guys in that top-4.

Yesterday, the Habs took the time to meet with the Russian forward to find out where they stand. And at a press conference today, Kent Hughes said the youngster had left a good first impression on him.

Hughes also admitted that he’s noticed how confident Michkov is as a young man. And he should be.

That said, while these are encouraging words for those hoping to see Michkov be the team’s fifth-round pick, we shouldn’t overlook the possibility that it’s all just a big smoke screen.

After all, Hughes is no crazier than anyone else: he knows that his fifth pick is coveted by teams who want Michkov, and it’s to his advantage to tout him publicly to force other teams to pay the big price.

I still don’t think he’s interested in selecting the Russian forward, but at the same time, I didn’t think he really wanted Juraj Slafkovský last year, so I could be wrong.

And like a good politician, Hughes was rather evasive about his plans for the first round. He simply said that he’s not ruling out any scenario and that he’s not yet set on the player he’s targeting. Again, let me question the second part of his statement.

In short, we’ll see if Michkov has left a good enough impression on the Tricolore for them to consider selecting him in the fifth spot. But after the arrival of Alex Newhook in return for the 31st and 37th picks, I still think that seeing the CH go down in the draft is an increasingly likely avenue.

In gusto

– The Pierre-Luc Dubois trade is now unofficial. At this price, I’m glad the Tricolore didn’t match the offer (both for the trade and the contract).

– Ouch.

– That’s a good one.

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