By JD Lagrange – Let’s get something out of the way. This is a ridiculous topic that is starting to take “Shane Wright” level of stupidity on the internet. So for that reason, this will be my one and only article on Matvei Michkov. Others will rehash, trying to convince others that they are “Wright” up until the NHL Draft, with the first round being held on June 28th. That’s a long time… too much time… and the Wright experiment has left a bad taste in our mouth from a year ago. But fans haven’t learned a thing about modesty from that awful social media fiasco.
Michkov is considered one of this year’s top talents at the NHL Draft. The Russian prospect has signed a three-year deal with SKA St. Petersburg in the KHL, a contract carrying him through to the end of the 2025-26 season. The 5-foot 10-inches, 148 lbs winger is ranked in the top-5 by most scouting outlets out there… when it comes to talent.
There is no denying his skills, no matter who you talk to. Dynamic offensive juggernaut, some scouts even go as far as calling him “the Russian Connor Bedard”. So in a normal year, in a normal world, he would be selected second overall, just behind Bedard, at the latest. But if some people are trying to downplay or ignore them, there are red flags that will inevitably make him slide down the chart.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that there is a lot of instability out in Russia right now, and it’s highlighted world-wide with the invasion of Ukraine. Vladimir Putin is a dictator, who is in full control of his country. He is charged with multiple war crimes and threatens world peace. It seems like we are one event away from a third World War, a chemical war this time.
If you trust that Government, it’s because you live too far from it, have little to no recollection of the old Soviet Union, or simply choose to ignore the situation by putting your head in the sand. Either way, Putin decides what he wants to do. And there is no sign of things getting better in the next three years…
The suspicious death of his father, Andrei Michkov, has raised more questions. His body was reportedly found in a pond near Sochi, according to a Russian outlet reports. While Russian officials went with the story that he died of natural death, remember that the Putin regiment controls Russian media at 100%. So you have an “investigation” conducted by the Putin Government, and publication of findings controlled by the same Government.
At the very least, this is a huge red flag and many feel like it’s pressures put upon the Matvei Michkov to remain in Russia. Threats to family has been a common practice under former dictatorships and it’s definitely a possibility here. The young man still has family in Russia who are still alive.
Martin McGuire added fuel to that fire on 98.5 FM, stating that Michkov’s father was trying to cancel his contract with SKA St. Petersburg prior to his death…
TVA Sports cited yesterday a Russian informant well respected around the NHL who raised concerns about SKA St. Petersburg putting pressure on Michkov to stay with them longer.
“The team drafting him will have to be patient”, he said. “SKA could convince him to extend for two more years at the end of his current 3-year contract. They could seduce him with enormous amount of money and the threat of keeping him out of the lineup in the last year of his contract if he doesn’t re-sign. It would totally be their style to do that.”
Canadiens’ wild card
The Canadiens have an important card up their sleeve in Nick Bobrov. The co-director of Amateur Scouting (with Martin Lapointe) is of Russian origin and he has contacts in that country. He is in a very good position to find things out that maybe, other teams would have more difficulties getting.
With that being said, a lot can happen in three years and what he may find out today, could easily change in a year from now… or in two or three years, as he gets closer to the end of his contract.
As much as some will try to downplay those red flags, it doesn’t change the reality of this very serious situation for the future of the franchise. The Canadiens cannot afford to miss on this pick. It would be like them picking Carey Price, selected #5 back in 2005, with the risk of him never playing in the NHL. Imagine the impact it would have had on this franchise.
The Canadiens messed up with Alex Galchenyuk at number three. Thankfully, Bergevin’s trade skills turned him into Max Domi, then Josh Anderson. But they also messed up with Jesperi Kotkaniemi with the third overall pick, whom they’ve lost to an offer-sheet.
The team simply cannot mess up with this pick, not in the middle of a rebuild that he doing well. Also, let’s not forget that this is a high talent draft and there will be a few other excellent picks available by the time the Canadiens speak on the podium.
It is my opinion that unless Bobrov can somehow guarantee that Michkov will be in Montreal for the 2026-27 season (not sure how he could possibly do that), they cannot afford to gamble on a maybe and must select the next best player available. No ifs or buts about it.
In the meantime, many of us will ensure to avoid spending too much time on social media, not to have the relive the Shane Wright-like non-sensical discussions. The Canadiens will do their homework, their due diligence and arguing until we’re blue in the face won’t change the outcome. They won’t listen to me, they won’t listen to you. They picked Juraj Slafkovsky, remember? Wait… I wanted them to pick him.