The Flyers’ prospect and SKA forward will be trying out a new position during the season, moving from wing to center.
As the KHL began their preseason play, Matvei Michkov and SKA St. Petersburg took on Admiral on Thursday afternoon. Michkov, who naturally plays on the wing, entered the game centering the team’s second line. On his wing was Ivan Demidov, normally a center but is also listed as a right-wing. The position change didn’t seem to affect him much as he registered two points and a shootout goal as well.
It is something that he and the team are going to experiment with throughout the season. Michkov was the one who was interested in learning how to play center, but it was his head coach that first approached him with the idea according to a Match TV correspondent.
"“This is actually a challenge for me. I used to play a couple of games in the center, I always liked it. The whole game goes through you, you conduct a trio or all five. I am generally comfortable doing this,” Michkov said. “Roman Borisovich said that he saw me in the center, and I was only glad. Of course, I myself am happy to play anywhere – even as a defender, even as a goalkeeper, I will give all my best in any position. The main thing is that the team wins.”"
Michkov didn’t have much experience playing center, saying the last time he did so was in one game last season with Sochi where he appeared in 27 total games and posted 20 points. But it looks like this is going to be another thing that Michkov will be adding to his game moving forward. Being able to play multiple forward positions will add just another layer to his game. NHL teams are often looking for players with versatility in their game. The Flyers have done that with players like Scott Laughton and more recently with Noah Cates.
On the fly, Cates was learning how to play center in the NHL after primarily spending most of his time on the wing. Michkov will have the advantage of learning that in Russia’s top league during this season and potentially moving forward. Flyers fans might want to look away or close their eyes before finding out who Michkov originally studied in order to learn more about playing center.
"“When I found out that I would play in the center, I came home, opened the computer and began to study how the center plays. But I watched the video of Sidney Crosby. And not goals and actions in attack, but how he works out in defense.”"
Michkov added that he was also shown how other players work defensively and the general functions that the center has. Even by simply watching video, studying a player of Crosby’s caliber is not a foreign concept to most young players. Crosby has been one of the top players in the NHL for quite some time. It is a good place for Michkov to look for tips and tricks on how to be a better center.
And for a Flyers team that isn’t necessarily deep at center, Michkov could give them another option down the middle whenever he makes the jump to the NHL. Who knows what the team could look like by then, but no matter what, adding Michkov’s skillset is going to make them a better team.