VOORHEES, N.J. — Matvei Michkov, the seventh overall pick in the 2023 NHL draft and a "spotlight player," did not envision sitting for three of SKA St. Petersburg's first four games this season.
Now with Sochi, the Flyers' top prospect should play and play a lot.
That works for Michkov and the Flyers.
"I think for him to move back to Sochi, he just wants to play and, personally, that’s all I care about," Flyers assistant general manager Brent Flahr said Monday at rookie training camp. "He’s a young kid, he needs to play games. He’s very driven, he’s very focused. He’s going to play lots of minutes and get opportunities. Hopefully they wins some games, too, which is great."
SKA St. Petersburg is one of the premier teams in the KHL, Russia's top pro league. The KHL is not touted as a developmental league because there's plenty of experience and a huge focus on winning.
With Michkov, for some reason, being healthy scratched and playing just 6:12 minutes in his lone appearance, SKA St. Petersburg and the 18-year-old decided a week ago it was best for him to join Sochi — a lesser KHL team — on loan.
"Matvei was extremely frustrated not playing," Flahr said. "He had a goal of being the top scorer in the league and he was sitting there. They have 40-something players on their roster. Obviously he was frustrated. As a young guy in Russia, you kind of have to bite your tongue and just put in the work and hopefully you get to play."
Entering the week, Michkov had two assists and 12 shots through two games with Sochi, while playing 16:35 minutes per game. He was playing his third game with Sochi on Monday.
Throughout the process, the Flyers have been in touch with his agent. Flyers director of player development Riley Armstrong stays in touch with Michkov and fellow Russian prospect Egor Zamula talks with him pretty regularly.
Last season, Michkov saw 27 games with Sochi on loan and put up 20 points (nine goals, 11 assists).
He's in Year 1 of a three-year contract with SKA St. Petersburg.
"That's the timeline we were told and we'll deal with that," Flyers general manager Danny Briere said after Day 1 of the draft in late June. "That's not something that scared us, to have the chance to take a player of his caliber at pick No. 7."