Starting around 2020, the entire hockey world had their eyes set on the 2023 NHL Draft. These kids were just 14/15 years old, but it was going to be a 2-man race to the 1st overall pick between Connor Bedard and Matvei Michkov.
They were the top 2 players at the 2021 U18 World Juniors. Michkov was the best player at the 2021 Hlinka Gretzky Cup. They were the top 2 players at the 2022 World Juniors before COVID had shut down the tournament. Then before the 2022 WJC were rescheduled for the summer, Russia invaded Ukraine. North Americans never really got a chance to watch Matvei Michkov after that. And between that plus the fact that he's still under contract in the KHL for the next 3 seasons, Matvei Michkov somehow dropped to the 7th overall pick tonight.
And holy shit I can't believe how dumb 5 other teams in the NHL could possibly be. If Matvei Michkov was a good ol' boy from Ontario, we still would have went into tonight talking about whether the Blackhawks would take Bedard or Michkov. Calling him the 2nd best prospect in this draft is a stretch because he's every bit as talented as Bedard. Obviously Bedard can come into the NHL next season and get his career started right away. But there are two legitimate game breakers in this draft. Two guys who can completely flip your organization around the moment they step through those doors and put on that sweater. Bedard is 1, and Michkov is the other.
How the Flyers were able to land this kid with the 7th overall pick is absurd. Heading into the 2021-22 season, the Flyers knew they were going to be terrible. But they still refused to tank. Last season was the perfect year to just throw in the towel and be awful, because there were 5 studs to choose from in the top of this draft. Bedard, Michkov, Fantilli, Carlsson, and Will Smith. The Flyers refused to tank, landed outside of the top 5 in the draft lottery, and it looked like it was the most useless waste of a season this organization has ever had. But then Montreal goes out and takes Reinbacher 5th overall. Then those idiot Arizona Coyotes go out and draft the wrong Russian with the 6th overall pick. And somehow, someway, the Flyers got the "2nd best player" in the draft with the 7th pick.
Now obviously I've seen all the idiots online talking about the "concern" that Michkov won't come over to North America. First of all, those people are all fucking morons. Just listen to this kid talk (through his interpreter). He wants to come over. It was his father's wish for him to one day win the Cup. You don't think he's going to come over the exact second he has the chance?
And sure, he still has to play out his contract in the KHL. That isn't up until 2026. But guess what--at least half of the guys drafted tonight won't suit up in the NHL until at least 2026 anyway. They'll go back to play another year or two in junior. Then they'll spend their first year pro playing in the AHL. Then finally in 2026 they'll be ready to crack the NHL roster. Michkov will be playing in the KHL that whole time. He's playing pro hockey, he's going to be getting better, and then he can come over to North America in 2026 still on his Entry Level Contract. Plus, the Flyers don't need him until 2026 anyway. They are going to be dog shit for the next few years. Keep tanking another year or so and build a wagon through the draft.
Michkov and Cutter Gauthier can be the Flyers' version of Ovechkin and Backstrom. All you need to do is find a future Norris Trophy winner in next year's draft, hope that Carter Hart's prime matches up with all of these guys coming up, and you have a window that'll be 7 years long.
What a night for the Flyers. The rebuild has its foundation. Let's go.