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2023 NHL Draft

Michkov Mayhem: Would The Teams In Front Of The Capitals Pick Him?



There is no bigger wild card in the 2023 NHL Draft than Matvei Michkov.

The top international skater, he would likely be a top-3 pick in most drafts — in some, potentially even the top choice. But concerns remain around Michkov, primarily the fact that his three-year contract in the KHL means it will likely be a while before he comes to North America.

It’s no secret that the Washington Capitals are intrigued about the idea of Michkov, especially the idea of replacing one stellar Russian winger with another who has extremely high potential — much like a young Alex Ovechkin once had.

But there’s also a very serious possibility that Michkov won’t be available when the Capitals are on the clock at No. 8.

Where could Michkov go? Well, there’s a host of potential landing spots for him.

Matvei Michkov, Skilled Russian Scorer, Could Be Caps’ Pick — If He Falls To No. 8

No. 1: Chicago Blackhawks

Two words: Connor Bedard. Three more words: Michkov? No chance.

No. 2: Anaheim Ducks

On a recent episode of the 32 Thoughts podcast, co-host Jeff Marek floated a colleague’s line of thinking, pondering that Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek — a “disciple” of Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman — could take a gamble and jump on Michkov, a move somewhat akin to Yzerman’s risk-taking approach. But, of course, that was purely speculation.

The consensus at No. 2 has been University of Michigan center Adam Fantilli, and there haven’t been many reports otherwise. But he’s not Bedard, so Fantilli to Anaheim is anything but certain — especially with other centers, such as Leo Carlsson and Will Smith, jostling for position in the top 5.

No. 3: Columbus Blue Jackets

Now that the entire NHL world is in Nashville, the Blue Jackets will not meet with Michkov before draft day, general manager Jarmo Kekalainen told reporters Tuesday.

Kekalainen has been outspoken about the team’s desire to select a potential franchise center, likely Fantilli or top international skater Carlsson, making Michkov a likely longshot to go to Columbus.

No. 4: San Jose Sharks

While it has been widely speculated that the draft’s top four centers — Bedard, Fantilli, Carlsson and Will Smith — go in the first four picks, San Jose seems to be one of the first actual potential landing spots for Michkov.

The Sharks, who have missed the playoffs for four-straight seasons, have been trying to offload Norris Trophy-winner Erik Karlsson and his colossal contract. Barring a trade, the team is bound to the big contracts of Logan Couture and Marc-Edouard Vlasic for a few more seasons as well, so a three-year wait for Michkov to come to American doesn’t seem too difficult to manage — especially if the team can collect more high picks in future drafts while they wait.

Especially after dealing Timo Meier to the Devils at the deadline last season, it’s apparent the Sharks aren’t planning on contending anytime soon, so Michkov makes some sense here.

No. 5: Montreal Canadiens

The Canadiens were one of the teams scheduled to meet with Michkov in Nashville this week, so the interest is definitely there. And after taking Juraj Slafkovsky first overall last year, there’s a track record for making the unconventional draft choice.

Montreal is ultimately where Michkov landed in the National Hockey Now Mock Draft, with Montreal Hockey Now‘s Marc Dumont saying the Russian winger “is simply too talented to ignore.”

However, defensive prospect David Reinbacher has long been speculated to be an option for the Canadiens, giving them the draft’s top blueliner — a potential coup compared to waiting three-years for Michkov.

No. 6: Arizona Coyotes

Here’s why Michkov to the Coyotes makes sense: the scene in Tempe is incredibly dreary at the moment, and it will be a long while before the Coyotes move into a new arena and are contending for the Stanley Cup.

However, the team still has some talent — albeit limited — on the roster, including forward Nick Schmaltz, Lawson Crouse and Clayton Keller, who signed an eight-year contract extension back in 2019. General manager Bill Armstrong has said they want to take the best player available and want to add a “superstar” but the recent addition of Sean Durzi seems to point to the Coyotes wanting to improve off a 28-40-14 season almost immediately — an short-term approach that Michkov does not assist.

No. 7: Philadelphia Flyers

It’s been just shy of two months since Danny Briere took over as the Flyers general manager, and he’s spent that time setting the team ablaze.

Defenseman Ivan Provorov was dealt to Columbus while center Kevin Hayes is heading to St. Louis. Goalie Carter Hart has been the target of trade rumors, as have center Scott Laughton and defenseman Travis Konecny.

Briere doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon, and after a 31-38-13 season the days look to be getting darker in the short term — which is why Michkov makes sense for Philadelphia. He wouldn’t need to come in and suit up from day one, making his KHL contract tolerable, and would likely be ready to come stateside when the Flyers’ window opens again.

Jared Serre covers the Washington Capitals for Washington Hockey Now. He is a graduate of West Virginia University.