There is no mystery around who will go first in this year’s NHL Draft, as Connor Bedard can count the minutes until he’s a member of the Chicago Blackhawks. But the future of another top prospect is much less clear.
Matvei Michkov, who has been expected to go near the top of the 2023 draft for years, now faces an uncertain fate thanks to his KHL contract (which reportedly extends through 2025-26), the Russian political climate, and a scouting process that has so far limited viewings and meetings for NHL clubs.
That shroud seems to be lifting, at least somewhat. Bob McKenzie of TSN reports that several teams have scheduled meetings with Michkov ahead of next week’s draft, and are eager to get to know the young forward. McKenzie points out, “no elite NHL draft prospect has had fewer live viewings/interactions with NHL GMs/executives/head scouts in his draft year than Michkov.”
A brilliant offensive player that has been compared to nearly every high-level Russian forward throughout his development, Michkov showed off his upside after a midseason transfer to HK Sochi in 2022-23. After failing to receive much playing time with his contracted club, SKA St. Petersburg, an agreement was made to let the 18-year-old play for Sochi, where he scored 20 points in 27 games.
Where Michkov lands will be one of the more exciting news items to come out of this year’s draft, especially if he falls further than expected.