The Washington Capitals will be on the clock with the eighth pick in a little more than a month. That draft spot has produced many All-Stars and it’s possible that Russian phenom Matvei Michkov could be the next one.
Michkov caught up with Russian outlet Match TV’s Pavel Lysenkov this week to talk about his draft process and the prospect of being drafted by the Capitals.
Lysenkov directly asked the young winger how fun it would be for him to join a Caps organization that already boasts fellow Russian talent like his former junior teammate Ivan Miroshnichenko, Alex Alexeyev, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and of course, legendary goal-scorer Alex Ovechkin.
“Yes, that would be great,” Michkov said as translated via Google Translate. “But not everything depends on me. As fate wills, so be it. You just have to be ready for everything.”
The 18-year-old Perm native first burst onto the prospect scene with an absurd 2019-20 season with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in the Under-16 Russian junior league. In just 26 games, he amassed 109 points (70g, 39a), an incredible 4.19 point per game scoring ledger. As a 16-year-old, he broke a Russian record previously held by Ovechkin for the youngest player to ever suit up for the Russian National Team.
Michkov also starred for Russia at the 2021 IIHF World Under-18 Championship, going head-to-head with the consensus top prospect in his draft class, Connor Bedard. Despite coming up short to Canada and Bedard in the Gold Medal Game, Michkov led all players in scoring with 16 points (12g, 4a) and was named MVP of the tournament.
In 27 KHL games with HC Sochi this past, he recorded 20 points (9g, 11a). Even if you include the three games he played for SKA St. Petersburg to start the year where he was sometimes skating less than two minutes a game, his .67 points per game rate was the highest for a draft-eligible player in KHL history.
Despite all that success, Michkov does have the potential to drop and be available to the Caps at eighth overall. Some of his answers from the interview explain why.
“It’s probably too early for me to think about America,” Michkov said. “I am in Russia now. I will do everything possible to gain a foothold in the SKA. This is my central and main task. And further plans – America or not America – are in my secondary thoughts. I need to prove myself in Russia. I have to succeed as a player. Score more, give more, benefit the team more.”
Michkov also states that he likely will not attend the NHL Draft Combine.
The dynamic offensive talent also has a KHL contract that could scare away teams and he hasn’t been extensively scouted in person for quite some time. His KHL deal with SKA St. Petersburg runs through the 2025-26 season and it’s likely that he will play in Russia’s top pro league for the extent of that deal. There’s another thing to consider: he has never officially played a game at an Under-20 World Junior Championship due to COVID annulling the results of the two games he played during the 2022 tournament. Then Russia was then banned from the continuation of that tournament and the 2023 tournament due to the invasion of Ukraine. Those issues combined with other geopolitical factors could make Michkov the wildcard of the draft.
The five-foot, ten-inch, 172-pound right wing has all the potential in the world to be one of the NHL’s top offensive talents. He could be well worth the wait for the Caps both at the draft and in the future.
Photo via @matvey_michkov39/IG
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