September 18, 2023
While a number of Flyers prospects were skating away over in Voorhees for the club's rookie camp, concern regarding the playing status for their biggest one over in Russia was inevitably going to come up.
Because up until recently, Matvei Michkov just wasn't.
The 18-year-old goal-scoring phenom, who the Flyers staked their future on with the seventh overall pick in the NHL Draft earlier this summer, isn't expected to come over for another few years because of an existing contract with SKA St. Petersburg in the KHL.
And that was fine, Flyers general manager Danny Brière explained after taking Michkov back in June. If they had to wait, they'd wait, so long as he was playing and developing over in Russia.
But when the KHL season began, Michkov sat, and in the lone game he did actually get to play in, he only saw just over six minutes of ice time.
Eventually, a "mutual decision" was reached to loan him back to HC Sochi, the KHL club he skated with ahead of the draft on loan last season, and a place where the minutes and opportunity would be.
But the process of getting there...
"Matvei was extremely frustrated not playing," Flyers assistant GM Brent Flahr said of the situation from the team's training center in Voorhees on Monday. "He had the goal of being the top scorer in the league [KHL] and you're sitting there...Obviously, he was frustrated."
And fans, who are going to be clinging to every highlight and any morsel of new info on Michkov for the foreseeable future, worried – especially so soon after the complicated breakdown of goaltender Ivan Fedotov's contract status, even though these are ultimately two very different situations.
In the early going, however, the loan back to Sochi appears to be doing the trick. Michkov has three assists through three games so far, and is getting his ice time with at least 15 minutes skated in each. He also generated 10 shots on goal in Sochi's 4-2 win over Sibir on Friday, then put three more on net in their 5-3 victory against Severstal earlier Monday.
#FueledByPhilly Matvei Michkov full stat line today vs Severstal:— Hockey News Hub (@HockeyNewsHub) September 18, 2023
18 shifts 15:41 TOI 1 assist 3 SOG 1 Hit 2 Blocked shots
Maximum speed 32.26 km/h | Avg speed 14.02 km/hr
Distance travelled 3.69 km#Sochi #KHL
He hasn't scored yet, but the goals are going to come soon enough if he keeps that pace up.
"As a young guy, and in Russia, you're gonna have to bite your tongue, put in the work, and hopefully get to play," Flahr said. "But I think for him to move back to Sochi – he just wants to play, and that's all. Personally, that's all I care about.
"He's a young kid. He needs to play games. He's very driven, very focused, and at least he's playing. He's gonna get lots of minutes, get opportunities, and hopefully win some games too, which is great."
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