In recent weeks, Mičkov has been accompanied by a strange reputation. He did not want to talk with the scouts, he behaved dismissively and arrogantly towards others. Until suspicions arose that he planned to model the next place of work according to his wishes with a measured demeanor. In addition, there is his valid contract with St. Petersburg in the KHL until the 2025-26 season. The Flyers knew all this. And they went for it anyway.
“We’ve been really swinging, but we’re hoping it turns out to be a home run,” Flyers general manager Daniel Briére said.
“It’s important for me to complete the goal that my dad had for me. And that’s to win the Stanley Cup,” Mičkov recalled, with the help of a translator, about his father, who died under unclear circumstances in Russia this April at the age of 51. On the stage of the Bridgestone Arena, the young Russian did not look like an impenetrable mystery, but like a determined young man who will everything for the Flyers to attack the highest goals again in a few years.
Foto: Christopher Hanewinckel, Reuters
Matvej Mickov at the draft alongside NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.
“It’s still a bit early, but we feel that when he’s ready to come in, he could be a real difference player and that’s a risk we were willing to take. To wait and hope that we will have an exceptional player on our hands,” added Briere.
TSN analyst Craig Button even compared Mičkov to the Argentine football poet Lionel Messi. “Matvej is very similar as a hockey player. They try to take advantage of opportunities. And when they come, it’s like lightning. He’s the second best scorer in this draft behind Connor Bedard.”
At the 2021 U-18 Championship, Russia lost to Canada in the final, but Mickov scored 12 goals in seven games and was named the most productive player of the tournament, which Bedard also participated in. However, he outshone his peers over the next few years, and Chicago selected him as the number one pick on Thursday night.
Unlike the competition, the Flyers met with Mickov twice. For the first time in a smaller number of people, who then failed to convince everyone during the club meeting that the Flyers should ‘waste’ the first pick on the erratic Russian. Briere et al. so they arranged one more meeting with Mičkov. And they were amazed.
“We grilled him. We asked him some really tough questions and we were very happy with the answers we got,” Briére described. “We want guys who aren’t afraid to play in Philly because it’s not always an easy place. But when you play with passion, the fans will appreciate.”
However, Mickov does not have to appear in the Flyers jersey in the next three seasons. But Briére hopes that a new era for the club will begin after his arrival. “I have a contract at home. But I hope that as soon as I can get out there, we will start winning immediately,” said one of the four Russians drafted in the first round. But certainly the most watched one.