If you believe recent reports, the Philadelphia Flyers seem to be focusing in on Matvei Michkov in the upcoming draft. He seems to be a popular selection and has been mocked more and more to Philly in recent drafts. There is no question that he is talented, but the issue with him seems to be will he end up playing in the NHL or would he stay as a star in the KHL; often considered to be the second best hockey league in the world.
Michkov has reportedly said he’d prefer to play in Washington. It makes sense. Alexander Ovechkin, a fellow Russian, is arguably the best player and has a legitimate chance to break Wayne Gretzky’s most goals record (his overall points record is still super safe). Who wouldn’t want to play on a line with their hockey hero? Who wouldn’t want to be taken under his wing and become the next big NHL star?
Likewise, the Caps are interested in him. After seeing the success of Ovi over the last 20 years, it’d be a slam dunk to think he’d want to play there and follow his footsteps. So, the Caps are getting a little nervous about sitting 8th in the draft. They are also worried that the Flyers, a divisional rival, may try to select him before they have a chance to choose. If that is the case, there are rumors they are looking to move up ahead of Philly in order to snag Michkov.
There is a GOLDEN opportunity for the Flyers and Daniel Briere here. When a team overplays their hand like this, you can take advantage of them. Let’s take a good example here. Different sport, but you’ll get the idea.
In 2017, the Chicago Bears had the third overall pick. As is usual, the Bears needed a quarterback and honed in on Mitch Trubisky. The 49ers sat at second in the draft. Because it was believed to be a weaker draft for QBs, the Niners weren’t looking to select one and were looking to shore up other positions. The Bears didn’t want to take that chance, even though the 49ers said they weren’t looking for a passer. So, the Bears offered their pick (third overall), a third round pick, a fourth round pick, and a third round pick the following season to San Francisco for the second overall pick. Had Chicago waited, they could’ve kept those picks and drafted Trubisky anyway.
This serves as a lesson. The Bears traded away the bulk of their picks (Chicago had previously traded away their second round pick) to get a guy that San Francisco, one pick ahead, had no interest in. What would the Caps offer for a player that they do want to move one space ahead?
IF Michkov is available at seven and if the Caps haven’t moved up, I’d get on the phone and call them and see how much Michkov is worth it to them. I would offer to swap picks with the Caps, want either their 2023 second round pick or 2025 first rounder with a 2025 second rounder as well. Likewise, I’d like one prospect from their Calder Cup Trophy winning Hershey Bears team. Someone like Ethan Frank (30 goals, 19 assists, 25 years old), Connor McMichael (9 goals, 9 assists with Caps this year, 22 years old), or Hendrix Lapierre (15 goals, 15 assists, 21 years old).
Michkov has loads of talent, but I don’t know how receptive he’d be to playing in Philly on a team that has a sketchy history when it comes to Russian players. Especially since this team also just traded it’s best Russian player in recent memory. Taking advantage of a divisional rivals “desire” would be a great coup for Briere if he can capitalize on it with a great pick at eight.
Drafting is a crap shoot. You never know if a player will get hurt (Sam Morin) or if a highly regarded player just never develops (German Rubtsov or Kieffer Bellows). But there appears to be more stable picks for the Flyers to pick, such as Dalibor Dvorsky, Will Smith, David Reinbacher, or Zach Benson.
Michkov may be good, but if the Caps are willing to pay to acquire him, and there are other good prospects that could be drafted, it would be wise to use this as an opportunity to load up at the expense of a divisional foe.