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Canadiens Draft Options: Matvei Michkov Is A Rare Talent



Canadiens potential pick Matvei Michkov

With the 2023 NHL Draft quickly approaching it’s time to take a look at the best players who may be available to the Montreal Canadiens once they take to the podium to announce the fifth overall pick.

Today we’ll discuss one of the most talented players available at the draft: Matvei Michkov.

Montreal Canadiens: Matvei Michkov Scouting Report

Before we start discussing Michkov’s numerous strengths, we should clear up a few things.

First off, despite some unconfirmed rumours, we will not discuss anything other than what we know in Michkov’s case. We are well aware some people started gossiping about his father’s death, but it would be intellectually dishonest of us to engage in those rumours, and frankly, rather ghoulish.

We should also point out that Michkov currently has a three-year contract with SKA St-Petersburg, which would delay his arrival in North America.

Some have suggested that the illegal invasion of Ukraine by Russia would play a part in the decision-making, however, we’re yet to see a top Russian prospect run into any sort of issue preventing him from coming to North America. There has been one exception, though not from a high-profile player. A Flyers prospect who was arrested on suspicion of evading the Navy, but as it stands, there have been no reports regarding Michkov’s pending military service.

Overflowing With Talent

There’s so much talent in the 2023 Draft that we’re discussing the possibility of a player like Michkov dropping out of the top 5, which is, frankly, ridiculous.

In any other year, Michkov would be rated as the top prospect, and you could even go as far as arguing that some of the aspects of his skill set are superior to Connor Bedard’s.

His secret? He’s a dominant offensive presence.

He’s constantly two or three steps ahead of his opponents, using his superior intelligence and creativity to create high-danger scoring chances. Michkov is not afraid of trying difficult plays, the type of plays that can break a game wide open.

And that’s really his greatest asset.

Matvei Michkov is a game-breaking talent.

The type of player that you want to see on the ice when the game is on the line, and that has the confidence necessary to play a key role in a contending lineup.

And more importantly, he has the hand-eye coordination and anticipation to back up his confident approach, which is he treats the ice as his own personal playground and the opposing defencemen as mere inconveniences on his way to the net.

Michkov possesses pinpoint accuracy and a very sneaky release, which makes him a dangerous player the moment he crosses the blue line.

He changes the angle of attack of his shot very slightly during his pre-shot movement, which masks his true intentions and leads to confused goaltenders.

He also knows how to use his excellent shot as a decoy, often freezing defenders and then quickly making his way to a high-danger area where he’ll have a better chance of scoring.

Any time Michkov has the puck in the offensive zone there’s a healthy chance it’ll make its way to the back of the net.

Think Alex Kovalev, but much, much faster.

Michkov also has fantastic playmaking ability, which should flourish the moment he’s playing with better linemates. We must keep in mind that he was loaned to HC Sochi last season, the worst team in the KHL. He can produce on his own, but as we all know, elite players are always better suited when they’re playing with teammates that can keep up with their dominant style of play.

If you’re yet to enjoy footage of Michkov in action, I suggest watching the video posted below, which was put together by one of my favourite prospect experts, David St-Louis.

Despite being one of the most talented players available at the draft in the last decade, Michkov is far from perfect.

He’s great on the forecheck but is far from a 200-foot player. His backchecking and defensive awareness could stand to be improved. He also tends to keep the puck on his stick for too long in the offensive zone, much like fellow Canadiens prospect Lane Hutson, though, once again, we should remember that Michkov’s teammates in Sochi were far from adequate when it comes to judging his role within a relatively decent team.

In Michkov’s case, it’s important to remember that stalwart defence can be taught, but offensive talent tends to be innate.

2023 Draft Rankings

Every public draft list has Michkov ranked in the top 5, though the majority of the outlets have him ranked 3rd or 4th overall. Sportsnet currently has him ranked the lowest, 5th overall, while several outlets have him ranked 3rd overall.

Given the Canadiens own the fifth overall pick, there are healthy odds Michkov will be available once they take to the podium.

For the record, Michkov will be in attendance at the draft. Contrary to some rumours that were spread earlier this month. he will also meet with several teams before the draft takes place, and we can assume the Montreal Canadiens are one of those teams.

Right now, the question everyone is asking is whether the Canadiens afford to gamble on Michkov. They’d have to wait a few years, which shouldn’t bother them, but a lack of control regarding his development would probably lead to some uneasy scouts in Nashville.

But I look at it another way.

Can the Canadiens afford to ignore Michkov if he’s available?

For a team that desperately needs talented wingers and lacks players with elite offensive capabilities, not to mention a team that could use a lot more shooting talent, ignoring a player of Michkov’s ilk could end in disaster.

MUST READ: Prospect Will Smith Is Overflowing With Talent

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The Rube

If you had to pick between Jean Ratelle (Will Smith) and Stan Makita (The Rus Connnsian Kid) who would you pick? Joe Sak or Marcelle Dionne. The Russian Kid is a possible offensive star like a Bret Hull for me. As a team leader Captain centre two way guy, you go with Smith. I go with all round skills not flash at this time because of the 3 year development issue. If Mik was coming right away and could play two way hockey in the AHL I might not say this. I think Mik is hyped and so is Connor. The top picks are always hyped. We have to remember how many don’t make it.

john harmsworth

I hear what you’re saying. Caution is never a waste. I hope that our brain trust is set to meet with him and interview and has done their homework via Bobrov and whatever other routed they might have. I have no problem with waiting for him. He would arrive just about the time we expect to get seriously competitive. I actually think he’s probably our best bet, but I trust Hughes and Co. to make a great decision. We should get a great player regardless.


finally some sanity in the michkov discussion.


The “debates” on who to take seem pretty simple. If Michkov is available, we take him. Slam dunk, end of story. If he’s not available, then in all likelihood Smith is available, and that’s a pretty darn good consolation prize. Once the Connor Bedard dream died, I’ve been all in on Michkov. I can’t wait for June 28th to get here!

Rick L.
It's not ghoulish to discuss his father's death!  Russia is a fascist dictatorship in which the government regularly kills people.  It is common knowledge that the Putin government engages in such behaviour.  There is a very real possibility that his father was murdered to send a message to his son about what could happen if Michkov tries to leave Russia. We can't exactly rely on Russian police to do an open investigation, so the real possibility exists that this was a political murder.  To assume that there in no chance Michkov might never be allowed to leave Russia is naive in the extreme. We can't forget that Russia has a fascist government.  Any NHL team that is not considering his father's possible murder in the draft equation is negligent.  I would be shocked if they are not factoring it into their decision. We should not just pretend that this is a normal situation because that does not make it go away.  Whether we like it or not, there is significant uncertainty that Michkov will ever come to North America, as long as the Putin regime remains in power.
john harmsworth

Russia is also home to some serious organized crime types who have had a role in their hockey world. I’d like some better understanding of that event as well.

Dumb habs

Habs decided to be stupid.

This management team will regret that night.