NHL mock draft: Why Detroit Red Wings could take a chance on Matvei Michkov

Detroit Free Press

The utter lack of luck that has befallen the Detroit Red Wings in seven years of the draft lottery means that this year, they miss out on Connor Bedard, projected to be a franchise-defining player and the consensus No. 1 pick.

But perhaps a Russian version will be available to the Wings, whose first pick in the June 28-29 draft in Nashville, Tennessee, arrives at No. 9.

Matvei Michkov (5 foot 10, 172 pounds) is a right wing who is rated second among European skaters; Bedard is first among North American skaters.

“They are in the same conversation,” NHL director of central scouting Dan Marr said during the combine in early June. “It’s just difficult when you can’t see a player live.”

ANOTHER OPTION: Why Matthew Wood would make sense for Red Wings at No. 9

EXPERT OPINION: Why NHL top scout’s draft assessment bodes well for Red Wings, even at No. 9

Michkov wasn’t at the combine; none of the Russian prospects were, though Marr said they had been told if they were in the U.S., they were invited. The war in Ukraine has limited how much teams have seen of Russian prospects, though NHL teams, including the Wings, have Russia-based scouts who have had eyes on players there.

Michkov, 18, started the 2022-23 season with SKA St. Petersburg’s minor-league affiliate, SKA-Neva, for whom he had 10 goals and four assists in 12 games. (He was set back at the start of the season by a knee injury.) SKA loaned Michkov to HC Sochi in December; he finished fourth in scoring with 20 points in 27 games for the KHL’s last-place team.

“Michkov changed teams,” Marr said. “His ice time was a little different, so he wasn’t put on the same platform his draft year in order to get some of the same recognition, but he’s definitely a first-round prospect.”

Michkov’s numbers don’t dazzle like those of teen stars playing against their own age group, but he’s an offensive playmaker with a scorer’s touch, with highlights including scoring a  “Michigan” — a lacrosse-style goal — in a 5-3 victory over Kunlun in Sochi’s season finale Feb. 26.

Drafting Michkov would be somewhat of a gamble because he has a KHL contract through 2025-26, which means he would be almost 22 by the time he’s eligible to jump to the NHL. The flip side of that: He will be developing in a top men’s league.

“We all like the hype of going as high as you can, but it’s still going to come down to what can you do after you get drafted,” Marr said. “He’s going to be just fine, but he does have contract commitments. But when he gets to the NHL, he’s going to be an impact player.”

After Bedard, Michigan’s Adam Fantilli and Sweden’s Leo Carlsson are projected to be the next players drafted.

The Wings have picked no higher than No. 4 over the past seven years. From 2017-20, they fell in the draft lottery, and in the past three seasons, they’ve held steady with their regular-season finish. Among the star players they have missed out on: Defensemen Rasmus Dahlin (No. 1 in 2018) and Owen Power (No. 1 in 2021), and forwards Jack Hughes (No. 1 in 2019), Tim Stützle (No. 3 in 2020) and Matty Beniers (No. 2 in 2021).

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames.

Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter.

Her latest book, “On the Clock: Behind the Scenes with the Detroit Red Wings at the NHL Draft,” is available from  Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.

Articles You May Like

Red Wings News & Rumors: Necas, Draft Pick Value, Free Agency & More
Beckett Sennecke Is a Fit for the Red Wings at Pick 15
Blue Jackets’ 3 Potential Trade Destinations for Patrik Laine
Hurricanes’ Mock Trade: Necas to Red Wings for Berggren & More
Red Wings 2024 First Round Draft Targets: 5 Forwards

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *