Draft Banter: Wish upon a Russian star

Detroit needs an impact player like Matvei Michkov.

Draft Banter: Wish upon a Russian star
Photo courtesy: Kontinental Hockey League (KHL)

I'm going to preface the next couple of minutes that I take from you to recognize that I have historically been anti-trade up in the first round for years. Why? Well, it's usually pretty expensive. That whole mindset has changed since Steve Yzerman took over because he's done a stellar job of collecting Draft selections. More picks means more wiggle room to pay the premium of nabbing a high-end prospect. Just look at Sebastian Cossa, for example.

Steve Yzerman is headed into the offseason with a truckload of picks in the 2023 NHL Draft – five picks in the first two rounds alone. He's got the resources to be a little aggressive if he wants.. And he should – remember just a couple of years ago when the hockey world considered Matvei Michkov a first overall pick? That conversation – and the landscape – has changed since then, but the player is the same. I don't think it's crazy to believe Michkov could slide into striking distance for Detroit. Or maybe I'm crazy.

The NHL's Central Scouting Service recently unveiled its final International Ranking recently. Michkov ranked second behind centerman Leo Carlsson, another player I would absolutely love to have play for the Wings.

Carlsson tops Central Scouting International ranking for 2023 NHL Draft
Leo Carlsson, a center with Orebro in the Swedish Hockey League, is No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting’s final ranking of International skaters presented by BioSteel for the 2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft.

Connor Bedard is your consensus first pick and I expect Adam Fantilli to go at two. From there, it's a toss-up. Do I believe Michkov could go with the third pick? Absolutely – and it would be a great pick. If he starts to slide in the first round though, this might be the type of player you want to take a chance on. If we see Michkov slide, it'll likely be due to his return to the KHL. The 18-year-old forward told NHL dot com that it's his "dream" to play in the NHL, but he's going to stay in the KHL for now. Can you blame teams for souring on a player over that? Maybe a little.. But you draft for the future. Just look at Minnesota did with Kirill Kaprizov. Not exactly the same situation, but it took five years for the Wild to ink him to an NHL deal. A long wait that was worth it.

Michkov was loaned to HC Sochi in December and the Russian star reminded everyone what he is capable of. 20 points in 27 games – impressive for his age. It had a lot to do with the ice time. As it turns out, giving a star player more than five minutes a game can pay dividends. That's KHL hockey, baby.  

I'm no expert but it sure seems like he has potential to be an NHL star if a team can be patient with him. Oh, and there's always the Russian conflict – a land war where basically every nation is united against his homeland adds a difficult twist.. That's just reality. It has nothing to do with the player. Sadly, though – it may play a factor. That's where the Red Wings could see some opportunity.

I don't know what's going to happen in the 2023 Draft. None of us do. Michkov could go second overall and all of my dreams could evaporate. Wouldn't be the first time. But I'm really keen to the idea of drafting a potential Russian superstar. It's worked in the past. Forget the contract stuff -- The talent is tremendous and in a few years, Michkov could be poised to take the NHL by storm. Pony up the assets and go get him if you have the chance.