Russian prospect, NHL 1st-round pick Matvei Michkov signs with Philadelphia Flyers

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Matvei Michkov’s talent has drawn comparisions to Eric Lindros. His slick playmaking had scouts projecting Michkov might have been drafted right beind Chicago’s Connor Bedard in 2023 had he not been tangled in a long-term deal with his team in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League.

The Flyers preached patience when they selected Michkov with the seventh pick in the 2023 draft, knowing he had three years left on his KHL contract.

They instead only had to wait a year and now Michkov just might expedite the Flyers’ rebuild and hit the ice on opening night in October.

“I expect him to be in the NHL,” Flyers general manager Danny Briere said. “He’s going to be given every chance to make the team.”

Freed from his KHL contract, the 19-year-old Michkov signed a three-year, entry-level with the Flyers on Monday and will bring sky-high expectations with him to Philly.

“We don’t have really anyone like him in the organization as far as a player, as far as skill level,” Briere said.

SKA Saint Petersburg let Michkov out of his contract last month, paving the way for Michkov to arrive in Philadelphia ahead of schedule. Briere was vague on the details, saying only “there was a lot of things that needed to happen in the background.”

The Flyers believe Michkov has the potential to help change the fortunes of a franchise that has not won the Stanley Cup since going back to back in 1974 and ’75. Philadelphia is in the midst of a rebuild and has missed the playoffs each of the past four seasons. The Flyers have only won a playoff series only four times since their last trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2010.

“We’re not trying to build a team to make the playoffs,” Briere said. “We’re trying to build a team to win the Stanley Cup.”

Michkov was property of SKA St. Petersburg, where he appeared in one game before being loaned to HC Sochi for the remainder of the season. He had 19 goals and 22 assists for 41 points in 47 games.

“You see the stuff that he pulls off and we can’t wait to see it on the Flyers,” Briere said. “He has special skills.”

The 5-10, 176-pound right wing also was third on the team in assists (22). He recorded 11 multipoint games and finished the season with five goals and eight points in his last nine games.

“Being in the NHL has been a dream for me since childhood,” Michkov said. “I would like to say a huge thank you to the Flyers management for their trust. I will do everything possible to meet their expectations. I can’t wait to join my teammates and start preparing for the new season together, and I would especially like to greet our fans. We have the same dream to win the Stanley Cup and I promise that will do my best to help this team and make that possible.”

He will not participate this week at the Flyers development camp at their New Jersey facility.

The Flyers recently went through a bizarre saga with goaltender Ivan Fedotov, who was conscripted for Russian military service after signing his NHL contract in 2022 and returned to the KHL before they finally brought him over in March.

With low expectations last season, the Flyers instead played well over their heads under coach John Tortorella and had a playoff berth still in sight down to the final game. In his second season on the bench, Tortorella squeezed every ounce of talent and summoned all the grit he could out of his players to thrust them into a playoff race.

Briere said there was a chance for Michkov to make an immediate impact on the power play — where the Flyers finished last in the NHL each of the last two seasons — and even crack the top six on opening night.

“That’s one of the things that I’m most excited about, too, the chance for Matvei to learn from a coach like Torts,” Briere said. ‘I know he’s going to coach him the right way. Just like he does everybody else. He going be tough on him, he’s going to be fair. He’s going to teach him the right way.”



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