Matvey Michkov was drafted by Philadelphia. The Central scouting office considers the Russian winger an incredible talent.
In the 2023 draft, Matvey Michkov went with the seventh pick, an incredibly low pick for a player of his talent. Philadelphia was lucky: it was clear right after the draft lottery that Chicago would take Bedar, but Anaheim, Columbus, San Jose, Montreal and Arizona were clearly confused by the fact that the Russian forward’s agreement with SKA runs through 2026.
Michkov was born on December 9, 2004 in Perm, Russia. The forward plays for HC Sochi on loan in the KHL. Michkov is only 18 years old and has been playing in the KHL for the last two years. He has 43 matches under his belt, in which he scored 11 goals and made 14 assists. The Russian right winger also played in the MHL and WHL. At the WHL level, he played in only 12 games, scoring 10 goals and making four assists for 14 points. As for the MHL, Matvey scored 68 goals and 39 points in 84 games.
That’s an incredibly impressive statistic for a young guy playing against grown men. Prior to the draft, Michkov was consistently ranked in the top five of potential picks. He was ranked second by Draft Prospects Hockey, third by FCHockey, Daily Faceoff, Recruit Scouting and DobberProspects and fourth by Smaht Scouting, SportsNet, Craig Button, McKeen’s Hockey, Bob McKenzie, The Hockey News and Elite Prospects.
Michkov participated in this year’s draft procedure altogether as the only player who could topple Bedard as a major prospect from the podium. However, the current geopolitical situation, his contract with SKA and not as much of a step up lately as many had expected has caused him to fall a bit lower.
Michkov is a great skater. He doesn’t have lightning speed, but he can regularly “burn down” defenders. What he does have, however, is powerful acceleration and a quick change of trajectory. He changes direction without much effort and without losing speed. This ability also allows him to slow down unexpectedly, let a defender catch up with him, and then quickly turn on the jets.
Matvey leans forward a lot when skating, and that causes some balance issues and may be the main reason why he doesn’t have elite top speed. With coaching at the NHL level, this deficiency should be corrected.
When they talk about Michkov, they talk about goals. His shot is undoubtedly already well-tuned for the NHL. The winger has an incredibly quick shot that can fool any goalie. His confidence and ingenuity with the puck also allows him to take shots from anywhere and at any time, regardless of whether or not any pressure is placed on him. With that kind of power and accuracy, Michkov has the potential to be an elite sniper.
But because the focus is on his incredible shot, people tend to overlook how good Matvey is as a playmaker. Michkov has had some dizzying passes in international duels. He has excellent puck possession skills, which allows him to create space for himself. The forward can use that space for passes or individual passes. When pressured, Michkov won’t force himself to force passes with a low percentage of accuracy. Instead, he quickly finds the best pass option to extend puck possession for his team on offense.
As for his game as a whole, Matvey is often even underestimated. First, he can make some incredible passes that very few players are capable of, regardless of their age. But Michkov also has a high hockey IQ. He always finds free ice and very rarely loses the puck.
According to a study by the Central Scouting Bureau, Michkov has been successful in 78.67 percent of his attempts when entering the offensive zone. Is that a lot? Very, very much! Matvey surpasses even Connor Bedard (72.73%), who is considered the top talent of his generation. Few doubt that Michkov could almost immediately apply his broad skill set in the NHL.
Russian hockey players are not known to play the most active hockey in the defense zone. This is not to say that all Russian offensive hockey players are bad defensively, but the systems that apply to Russian hockey clubs are much more attack-oriented. Michkov is far from the best defensively, either. His effort levels can be inconsistent. However, in important duels, he shifts quickly, moves his feet well and pressures his opponent effectively.
But there are very, very few such moments. This can lead to some problems with being late to the puck near the rim. On other occasions, which is not unusual for Russian prospects, he will get out of his zone early to look for offensive opportunities. But if Matvey can – and the coaches will undoubtedly try to push him, smooth out the inconsistencies in his game so far – he’ll be at least average in that area. And don’t forget that we’re talking about a very young player and by no means a two-way center.
Matvey Michkov has incredible potential. While his throwing is the main focus of his game as a whole and certainly what is most valuable about this winger, the rest of his game is also very well balanced.
His underrated playmaking skills make him a versatile offensive threat. His stickhandling and creativity allow Matvey to beat any defender and in any way he can. He can guide the puck through the neutral zone and offensive zone with incredible efficiency. Moreover, Michkov often doesn’t even need space to create chances in the neutral zone and offensive zone. Simply put, his skill set and character traits give him so many tools to beat his opponent that it’s nearly impossible to truly defend against him. We are talking about an incredible, exceptional talent.
Based on his style alone, rather than a projection of his influence, there are two players that come to mind when watching Matvey Michkov. Oddly enough, they are both from Russia.
The first is Evgeny Malkin. Malkin can score goals in a variety of ways, has excellent stickhandling and creativity, and can also be a good playmaker. However, Michkov does not have the size or physical superiority that Malkin does.
Another comparison that comes to mind is Sergei Fedorov. Fedorov had a brilliant command of the stick and a creative mind. But on top of that, he also had a fantastic shot. On top of that, Fyodorov had moments when the audience’s jaws hit the floor during some of his passes and some very unorthodox decisions.
What team wouldn’t want a player who embodies the traits of two legendary Russian forwards?