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Flyers Successfully Acquire Russian Right Wing Matvei Michkov in NHL Draft

The Philadelphia Flyers have acquired right wing Matvei Michkov in the NHL Draft.

In a strategic move, Danny Briere, the general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers, successfully acquired the player the team desired most in the NHL Draft on Wednesday. Briere patiently navigated the draft, ultimately selecting right wing Matvei Michkov as the Flyers' first-round choice at the No. 7 spot. Additionally, the Flyers obtained defenseman Oliver Bonk from the London Knights of the OHL with the No. 22 overall pick, acquired in a trade involving Ivan Provorov and the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Despite limited opportunities for in-season scouting due to ongoing conflicts in Ukraine, the Flyers remained focused on Michkov, a highly-regarded offensive player from St. Petersburg, Russia. Standing at 5-11 and weighing 172 pounds, Michkov was widely considered the second-best offensive player in the draft, behind Connor Bedard who was selected as the top overall pick by the Chicago Blackhawks. The Flyers received positive reports from their Russian scouts and conducted multiple inquiries about Michkov's skills and character, all of which were encouraging.

Expressing his excitement, Michkov, speaking through a translator, said, "I am delighted to be with the Flyers. I have no words. It is such an emotional moment."

While the top five picks in the draft were largely predictable, the Arizona Coyotes surprised many by passing on Michkov at No. 6 to select Russian defenseman Dmitri Simashev. This allowed the Flyers to secure Michkov, who remains under a contract with the KHL for another three seasons. The timing of his arrival in Voorhees, New Jersey, where the Flyers' training facility is located, remains uncertain.

Briere acknowledged the contract situation, stating, "We know he has a contract for three more seasons. But for us, we just felt after watching him play and after meeting him, that it's a talent that we cannot pass up."

Given the Flyers' intention to take time to rebuild, they were in a position to select a player whose arrival may be delayed. However, they will attempt to negotiate a shorter waiting period.

Michkov showcased his skills in the KHL last season, playing 27 games for Sochi HC and accumulating nine goals and 20 points. Known for his dynamic creativity and scoring ability, Michkov was likely to be selected by the Washington Capitals at No. 8 as a potential replacement for Alex Ovechkin. Interestingly, the Capitals used their pick to draft Ryan Leonard, a right wing from the USA development system known for his physicality and strength.

Briere's patience in waiting for Michkov to fall to the Flyers paid off, as the young forward expressed his desire to join the team. "He wanted to be a Flyer and you saw it on stage with his reaction," Briere said. "His reaction was amazing. He convinced us in our meeting that he wanted to be there and he wanted to be a Flyer. So our staff felt really, really good about selecting him."

When asked about his timeline for joining the Flyers, Michkov replied, "Quite soon. It's my dream to be there."

In addition to Michkov, the Flyers selected Oliver Bonk, a 6-1, 176-pound two-way defenseman from the Ottawa 67's of the OHL, with the No. 22 overall pick. Bonk, whose father Radek Bonk was a former No. 3 overall draft choice of the Ottawa Senators, recorded 10 goals and 30 assists in 67 games last season.

With the first round complete, the draft will continue on Thursday morning. The Flyers do not possess a second-round pick but will have selections at No. 87 and No. 95 in the third round, followed by two picks in the fourth round, one in the fifth, two in the sixth, and one in the seventh.

Prior to the draft, Briere made a trade with the St. Louis Blues, sending Kevin Hayes in exchange for a 2024 sixth-round draft choice. Speculation arose that there would be additional components to the deal, but nothing materialized before the Flyers made their first two picks.

Hayes, reflecting on the trade, expressed mixed emotions but remained optimistic about his future with the Blues. "You never want to get traded out of any job that you're doing, whether it's sports or you're at a desk job," Hayes said. "You feel like you're letting someone down. I looked at it as a situation where the Blues wanted me and they see something I can bring to them. Now I can use that to go to St. Louis and show everyone that I can still play in this league at a high level."

The Flyers have high hopes for their two new picks and believe they will eventually perform at an All-Star level.

Michkov expressed his gratitude, saying, "It means a lot to me. It was my dream to go to the NHL, and also to win the Stanley Cup."

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