SKA St. Petersburg unofficially started their 2023-24 season Thursday afternoon, taking on Admiral Vladivostok at 3 p.m. local time. Heading into the game, it appeared that SKA staff sought to experiment with their lines. One such example of this was having Philadelphia Flyers prospect Matvei Michkov playing on their second line as a center. Michkov, of course, is naturally a winger.
Ivan Demidov, one of Michkov’s linemates in the contest, can play any of the forward positions but is a center by trade. Fortunately for the Flyers, Demidov is a top prospect for next year’s NHL draft, so they’ll be able to get a good look at him whilst keeping an eye on Michkov.
It’s fair to wonder if SKA put Michkov at center to have him focus more on his defensive responsibilities. That didn’t seem to affect him much, and if it did, it wasn’t obvious. The 18 year old scored one, assisted another, and then scored the shootout winner in a bit of preseason fun at the end. Michkov looked solid in the faceoff circle taking draws, and even got to center the second power play unit as well.
With 7:34 remaining in the first period, SKA opened the scoring when Michkov ripped a slick feed across the surface of the ice through traffic onto the tape of Demidov, who did the rest. Then, with just under three minutes left in the first period, Michkov got himself on the board when he put home a bouncing puck at the side of the cage. The Perm native was particularly impressive on his goal, showing the patience to float from behind the net towards the circle, and then stopping suddenly when he notices the puck could be coming to his location. Obviously it did, and Michkov did well to clean up in front.
SKA would ultimately lose 3-2 to Admiral in overtime, but the two teams went to a shootout after the conclusion of the game just for fun. SKA would win that competition 2-1, and you know who from the Flyers scored the winner.
For the Flyers, it is definitely great to see Michkov picking up where he left off, and showing some versatility along the way. The Flyers have a bit of uncertainty with their roster and prospect composition; the team does not have many centers, but are blessed with a slew of right-handers. As a lefty who is apparently now playing center, Michkov checks both of those boxes. The Flyers will hope to reunite him and Demidov in Philly around this time next year.