Michkov: Habs Must Tread Carefully

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.

Special talent

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.

Putin factor

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…

Father’s death

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…

SKA pressure

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.

Nick Bobrov’s Track Record

The Montreal Canadiens have announced that they have hired a couple of new men to help with their hockey operations. Since the firing of Marc Bergevin and Trevor Timmins at the end of November, Martin Lapointe has been filling the role of Director of Amateur Scouting. We didn’t know if it was by interim or permanent but it seems like we got our answer today with the team’s announcement.

The team also announced that while Lapointe will remain in his functions of Director of Player Personnel, but added the title of Co-Director of Amateur Scouting to his functions. He will likely focus solely on North America in his role. The team has hired former Boston Bruins and New York Rangers’ Director of European Scouting Nick Bobrov as Co-Director of Amateur Scouting. He will likely oversea the European side of the department.

For one, Vincent Lecavalier didn’t use the Canadiens to negotiate a better contract in Tampa Bay this time around, as he joins the organisation as a Special Consultant to Hockey Operations. This likely means that he will be able to continue to be paid tax-free money, suntanning in Tampa.

Bobrov’s track record

Some people are thrilled of the addition of Bobrov. Others, not so much. This prompted me to do a little bit of research, as I often like to do, in order to form a more educated opinion on the Canadiens’ management new addition. For “misses“, to be fair, I have focussed solely on the top three rounds of the Draft as anything beyond is a flip of the coin toss no matter the origin of the picks. The “hits” are from any round.

Boston Bruins (2001-2006)

HITSDavid Krejci2nd Rd (63)2004962
Vladimir Sobotka4th Rd (106)2005548
MISSESVladislav Yevseyev2nd Rd (56)20020
Hannu Toivonen1st Rd (29)200261
Mikko Lehtonen3rd Rd (83)20052
Petr Kalus2nd Rd (39)200511
Yuri Alexandrov2nd (37)20060

New York Rangers (2015-2021)

This is a lot more recent and it’s definitely more difficult to assess hits and misses. So take those with a grain of salt, of course, as it can still change. For that reason, I’ve also added a section for “to be determined (TBD)“.

HITSFilip Chytil1st Rd (21)2017226
Kaapo Kakko1st Rd (2)2019151
MISSESRobin Kovacs3rd Rd (62)20150
Aleksi Saarela3rd Rd (89)20159
Lias Andersson1st Rd (7)2017102
TBDVitali Kravtsov1st Rd (9)201820
Nils Lundkvist1st Rd (28)201825
Olof Lindbom2nd Rd (39)20180
Jakob Ragnarsson3rd Rd (70)20180
Karl Henriksson2nd Rd (58)20190
Oliver Tarnstrom3rd Rd (92)20200


Obviously, you can draw your own conclusions with the list provided above. But from what I can see, Bobrov’s track record has nothing to write a book about. So far, he has uncovered one very good player in David Krejci, which the Bruins got in the second round. It’s pretty hard to give credit to anyone picking second overall as the Rangers did with Kakko but Chytil seems to be a pretty good player.

There are many others picked from 2018 to 2021 (six to be exact) who remain to be seen. Even if half of them turn into good players, I’m not so sure that it justifies the hiring of Bobrov. But hey, what do I know? I can only go with numbers as I’m not in the circle of professional hockey experts. Here’s hoping that the new management works out for the best for the Canadiens. So far, while early, there are more questions than answers.

More reading…

The Return of Goal Caufield

Hoffman Could Be The Next Habs’ Casualty

A Contract’s Effect On Expectations