Rumors abound but Flyers say they have no update on Michkov’s status

Matvei Michkov

VOORHEES, N.J. – Imagine the media tsunami if Matvei Michkov had grown up in Canada or the United States.

Even though the Flyers’ 2023 first-round draft pick has spent the past year playing halfway around the world in Russia, he still draws the attention of a hockey rock star.

When rumors began recently that Michkov might be able to get out of the last couple years of his Kontinental Hockey League contract and hustle over to Philadelphia to possibly play in the NHL, it caused quite the stir.

It would be a kick to provide some sort of progress report but that state of affairs can be summed up in three short words: There isn’t any.

At Wednesday’s press conference at the Flyers Training Center, Flyers president of hockey operations Keith Jones shook his head ever so slightly when asked for a status update.

“When we drafted him, the expectation was that he would finish his contract with SKA (and Sochi HC),” Jones said. “So we are listening. We have no update on it. We would welcome him with open arms. We absolutely love what he is going to bring to the Flyers.

“If that timeline is sped up, that would be wonderful. But we don’t know. When he arrives, our fan base is going to be pretty excited about getting a highly talented player that is different than what we have right now.”

Michkov, 19, played in 47 games in the KHL, recording 19 goals/41 points. He’s listed at about only 150 pounds, so there’s still some growing and body development to go.

>Patience a virtue

Flyers governor and CEO Dan Hilferty was asked if ownership has any sense of urgency for the team to make the playoffs next season. If the Flyers fail to do so, it would make it five straight years out of the postseason, tying an organization mark for futility (1990-94).

“I’m very comfortable that there has to be a level of patience around this,” Hilferty said. “I’ve studied other franchises. (For instance) How did Florida do it? (reach the Stanley Cup Final this season). What’s the mixture of young guys, seasoned pros that creates this formula?

“I’m going to cheer for us to win every game but I’m not going to worry about the wins and losses. You want to be in a playoff hunt but I’m not going to worry it’s going to be this coming year. I just want to see continued progress, the development of the young players. I’m not getting caught up in the years.”

>Free agency outlook

The NHL’s free-agent signing period opens on July 1 and the Flyers are likely to have a bit of interest, even if they say they are committed to getting younger, etc.

As for attracting headline talent, Jones said it’s important to make Philadelphia a destination location once again. Once the Flyers reach contending status, that will make things a bit easier.

A healthy work environment helps, too.

“I do think there’s been a lot of progress made with the team coming together,” Jones said. “The players enjoy playing here again. When we’re in a position to go out and get a premier player through free agency, this is going to be a destination that they want to come to again.”

Jones said both last season and the upcoming season are part of that process. Getting rid of some unwanted money via expiring contracts, etc., will help expedite getting to a better place to consider higher-priced talent.

>Analyzing the Walker trade

At last season’s trade deadline, the Flyers sent defenseman Sean Walker to Colorado in exchange for the Avalanche’s first-round draft pick in 2025.

The Flyers were still in playoff contention at that point (early March). Jones was asked about the timing of the deal.

Was there concern the players might interpret the deal as a sign the team wasn’t all in on making the playoffs?

“I don’t think you ever want to send a message to guys who have fought so hard to get to the position we were sitting in,” Jones said. “To say, ‘hey, we’re not a playoff team.’ I don’t think the messaging should be lost, that we did trade a player for a first-round pick next year in a very important draft.

“Had Walker stayed with the team – were there three points there? – then yes, we’re in the playoffs. We would have been a dificult opponent, which is what we established last year.”

>Disappointing finish

According to Jones, that bad finish against some weak teams should serve as a motivator for next season.

“I think some of the disappointment in the losses at the end of the season is going to be something that our players carry with them,” Jones said. “I think it’s going to be valuable for them. We didn’t lose to the best teams in the league. We lost to some of the worst teams (Chicago, Columbus, etc.). It was overlooking the opponents we were playing.”

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About Wayne Fish 2452 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.