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Matvei Michkov is one of the most polarizing players among the first-round candidates in the upcoming 2023 NHL Entry Draft. Before the season began, his name was in conversation with Connor Bedard for the number one ranking. His offensive talent level is elite in several categories, but an early season injury combined with other factors have dropped him in several draft pundits’ lists. He remains a very strong top-end prospect with superstar potential that could slip down to the Montreal Canadiens at their fifth overall pick in this draft.


Right Wing
Shoots: Left
DOB: December 9, 2004
Height: 5′ 10″
Weight: 159 lbs


Elite Prospects: 4
Future Considerations: 3
Daily Faceoff: 3
The Hockey News: 4
TSN (Bob McKenzie): 4
TSN (Craig Button): 4
NHL Central Scouting (European): 2
Sportsnet: 5
Recruit Scouting: 3
Dobber Prospects: 3
Draft Prospects Hockey: 2
Smaht Scouting: 4


Scouting Report

When Michkov burst into the hockey scene as a fifteen-year-old at international tournaments, scouts were blown away. Matvei broke the U-16 Russian league scoring record previously held by Nikita Kucherov. When he advanced to the Russian MHL junior league, he also broke that league’s points record. His hockey sense and shooting were at elite levels then, and have continued to improve as he moved up into different leagues.

He eventually arrived at Russia’s top league, the KHL, during the 2021-22 season. Last September he suffered a knee injury during a big open ice hit from former Hab Alexei Emelin, which caused him to miss two months. When he returned he played only a few KHL games with SKA St. Petersburg before being sent down to their minor league team. After dominating there for a dozen games, Michkov was loaned to another KHL squad in Sochi, where he could get more than fourth line level ice time. After a short time, he adjusted to his new pro team and began to put up dominating numbers again.

When it comes to offensive production this past season, Michkov’s advanced stats are the best in his age class over the past five years. That is comparing him among all prospects in the KHL, SHL (Sweden), and Liiga (Finland). That is a remarkable accomplishment and helps to illustrate the game-breaking ability he possesses against his peers in the top three European pro leagues. Michkov’s shot is deadly; he can beat goaltenders with a wrist shot or a one-timer and can modify his shooting angle to fool netminders with his release.

His hockey sense is also elite. The old phrase “playing chess while others are playing checkers” is very apt at describing this skill. His brain is so far ahead of his opponents providing him excellent anticipation to start a play, join a rush or fool a defender one-on-one to gain a scoring opportunity. Because of those attributes, his passing is also at an extremely high level on his backhand or forehand. He will give a teammate the puck if that represents a better chance for them to score.

Some have said he’s been a selfish player in the past, which was more evident a couple of years ago. This season he has matured in that area and will initiate contact when a chance to gain possession of the puck is present. When it comes to skating, his mobility and lateral movements make him a very elusive skater. It makes him difficult to hit, and his puck possession is strong due to his high-level puck handling. His straight-ahead speed is very good, but not at the level of Bedard. He knows how to change his pace to take advantage of a situation. When it comes to NHL comparisons, fellow Russian Artemi Panarin is a player close to his abilities.


As a seventeen-year-old player, Michkov signed an unprecedented five-year contract with the SKA organization in 2021, which does not end until the final game of his 2025-26 KHL season. That will mean he will be twenty-two years old in the fall of 2026 when NHL training camps begin. That is the same age that Minnesota Wild’s forward Kirill Kaprizov was when he started playing in the NHL in 2020. Kaprizov was a totally developed prospect at that age and went on to win the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year. That precedent should help the Habs feel somewhat at ease in drafting him, knowing he will be a fully developed prospect ready to become an NHL pro.

Montreal’s co-director of amateur scouting, Nick Bobrov, has strong ties to Russia since it is his native land. In addition, Bobrov’s father Sergei works for the SKA organization as a scout, and SKA retains Michkov’s rights while he is in the KHL. I have no doubt Sergei will share further insights about Michkov as a player and a person with his son. When considering that most of the rest of the 2023 draft outside of Bedard are unlikely to become dominant NHL players in less than three years, I believe it will be worth the three-year wait for Montreal to invest in drafting Matvei Michkov. Just think of what parachuting a potential superstar prospect into Montreal four years into the Hughes/Gorton rebuild would do for this franchise.