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July 03, 2024

Flyers' Riley Armstrong on Matvei Michkov: 'He's gonna pull all of you guys right out of your seats'

Michkov is going to need to make some adjustments in the jump to the NHL, but the Russian phenom is about to put on a show.

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Matvei-Michkov-NHL-Draft-Stage-2023.jpg Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports

Matvei Michkov is on his way.

Matvei Michkov isn't at the Flyers' development camp. There are still a few logistics to sort out before the Russian phenom can finally make his way over to North America, but the contract is signed, and the subject of him being brought up in Voorhees this week anyway was inevitable. 

So what does Riley Armstrong, the Flyers' director of player development, think of Michkov's impending arrival?

"I watched a lot of his games... as a KHL alumni myself, I like to check back in on the league, see how it's doing," Armstrong, of nine career KHL games, quipped at Day 1 of development camp on Tuesday, but to get to the point: "I think the biggest adjustment is just gonna be going to the smaller ice every night. 

"Over there some rinks are big and some rinks are the NHL size, so for him, I think just being in the D-zone, worrying about that," Armstrong continued. "I think playing for [head coach John Tortorella], he's gonna learn that pretty quick, and just little board battles – kind of the stuff we were actually doing today would be perfect for him."

Basically, Michkov's play away from the puck is going to be one of the early points of emphasis when he gets here.

When he has it though? Get ready for a show, Philadelphia.

"I think the blue line out and when he gets the puck, I think he's gonna pull all of you guys right out of your seats along with the other fans at the Wells Fargo Center," Armstrong said, referring to the media in front of him. "I don't know how long it'll take for him to adjust to the league, but once he figures it out and understands his linemates and stuff like that, he's gonna be a pretty special player."

And the Flyers are clearly ready for this to finally get going:

Michkov, too:

MORE: Michkov's signing, Brière's path to Cup contention, other Flyers thoughts

A defensive throwback

Hunter McDonald seems to be using his 6'4" frame a lot more confidently. He's been moving well through drills in the first couple of days, and on Day 2, when the Flyers' coaches had them doing odd-man rush drills, McDonald really took advantage of his range to get his stick in the way of potential chances.

It was one of those instances – a limited and controlled one, granted – where you could see why the Flyers like him so much.

"He's kind of an old-school defenseman," Nick Schultz, the team's former blue-liner and now assistant director of player development, said Wednesday. "He's a throwback. You see kids now, I think we lack the physicality around our net and playing hard in the corner, that just comes natural to him. That's the way he plays... He plays hard. He makes it hard on forwards cutting to the front of the net, in the corners, and I think the difference from him from maybe the old school D like that is that he can skate. He's an unbelievable skater."

McDonald, 22, joined the Phantoms in the AHL from Northeastern University late last season. He'll likely return to Lehigh Valley for this upcoming one, but he thinks that his defensive-minded skill set and physical nature can create a place for him in the NHL. 

"I believe so," McDonald said during camp's first day on Tuesday. "Just sticking to that, like don't try to be something that I'm not. It's something that I keep at the forefront of my mind, and I think it's gonna take me far."

MORE: Jett Luchanko's speed makes him 'a special player,' and could make him a key piece to the Flyers

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