Canadiens Passing on Michkov Was the Right Move
Also, why drafting David Reinbacher wasn't a bad choice
The Montreal Canadiens went into last season's NHL draft with a top-five pick. Everyone thought this would be the season the team finally got the dynamic star forward they had been looking for. General manager (GM) Kent Hughes had other thoughts and went in a different direction, drafting defencemen instead. This became the most controversial decision by a Habs GM since Marc Bergevin traded P.K. Subban. It is so contentious that fans are angry and split over the pick even today. In this article, I will explain why they chose Reinbacher and passed over top forwards in that draft.
Mitchkov Had to Many Red Flags
The day before the draft, everyone anticipated the Canadiens drafting a highly skilled forward from Russia. Matvai Michkov was outstanding at the U-18 two years previous, where he led the tournament in scoring, and many scouts and analysts thought he could be better than Conner Bedard, who had been touted as the next generational talent. Then, a war broke out between Russia and Ukraine. The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) banned all Russian teams from playing in world tournaments, and scouting of Mitchkov's play became very limited.
Michkov continued to put up great numbers in the Molodyozhnaya Hokkeinaya League (MHL) or junior league, scoring 107 points in 84 games with 68 goals from 2020 to 2022; he also had five points in 13 games in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) as a 17-year-old in 2021-22. He graduated to the Supreme Hockey League (VHL) in 2022-23 but only lasted 212 games, scoring ten goals before being called up to the KHL and loaned to HC Sochi, where he scored 20 points in 27 games. This season, he again plays in the KHl for Soshi, has 37 points in 42 games, and missed eight games dealing with pneumonia.
So, where are the red flags? There is no question that Michkov is a highly skilled scorer with an excellent shot and elite stick-handling ability. After that, however, he doesn’t bring much to the table.