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Top of the lottery prospects: Michkov scoring like a champ

Michkov has firmly gotten on solid ground with HK Sochi and looks like a top-performing prospect again.

Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympics - Day 13
Matvei Michkov of Russian Federation battles for the puck with Maddox Fleming of the United States at the 2020 Winter Youth Olympics.
Photo by RvS.Media/Monika Majer/Getty Images

Matvei Michkov started the year off without any points for his home club, SKA St. Petersburg, before being sent to the team’s developmental club just three games into the season. Michkov went for more than a point-per-game there, before earning a loan to another KHL club — albeit the worst one in the league.

Now, not only is Michkov helping that last-place team, he’s powering them to victories. The last two times Sochi won — a 3-1 victory on Feb. 20 and a 7-2 victory on Feb. 11 — Michkov tallied four points, including two goals.

In 66 games, HK Sochi has won just nine games, Four of those victories came in Michkov’s 25 games with the team (a 16 percent win rate, significantly better than the 12.2 percent win rate without Michkov) and Michkov scored at least one point in each of those four victories.

Michkov, therefore, is already proving capable of impacting a team positively, even in a league against grown men where he’s not exactly playing with the highest quality of teammate. As a reminder, Michkov turned 18 years old two months ago.

In his last seven games, Michkov scored six points, including three goals. Michkov is averaging 16:09 per game, playing significant minutes for a team in arguably the second-best team in the league.

If he keeps playing the way he has in February, it will be hard for SKA not to recall Michkov back to the superior team. SKA is far and away the best team in the KHL (again) and, with the team likely wishing to avoid a potential playoff upset, recalling Michkov may not be a bad deadline move.

If Michkov keeps playing the way he is, with his lone drawback being his contract status, it’ll be hard for teams like the Chicago Blackhawks — in for a long rebuild — to justify not taking him. There’s less incentive to be bad next season (the top of the draft isn’t as stacked and it also isn’t as deep) but the Blackhawks will be anyway.

Having Michkov show up in 2025 isn’t as big of a drawback for the Blackhawks as it is for other teams. especially if the Blackhawks keep players like Patrick Kane, Max Domi and Jake McCabe who could otherwise bring in significant returns. That’s the next time the Blackhawks could actually be good.

Michkov looks like a star. The situation he’s found himself in isn’t worthy of him — if he was a free agent this offseason, the argument for taking him second overall would be easy.

But he’s proving to be more than capable of being a key player on a KHL team at just 18 years old, and that’s been a good omen in the past (Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin, Artemi Panarin, Valeri Nichushkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nikita Kucherov — for a dollar name a Russian).

Drafting Michkov at two or later, if that’s where the Blackhawks pick, wouldn’t be a bad choice.