Which Teams Would Draft Matvei Michkov? Should the Blackhawks?

Matvei Michkov (No.39) of Russia U20 seen in action during...
Matvei Michkov (No.39) of Russia U20 seen in action during... / SOPA Images/GettyImages

May 8th isn't that far away, just 45 days to be precise. That's the day that Connor Bedard will find out where he will be playing, and Adam Fantilli for that matter as well. What about Matvei Michkov though? He is clearly in that top 3 talent wise, so why isn't he a lock to know where he will be playing?

That is certainly a complicated answer these days. The obvious questions are these:

1. With a signed KHL contract through the 25-26 season, will he even want to leave Russia afterwards?

2. Will his country put pressure on him to stay, perhaps even force him to do so?

3. Does the recent factors in teams' pride nights make a slight hesitation in drafting Russian players that may or may not take a similar stance. Note: There is no indication that Michkov shares this stance, it is simply a geographical connection point that some GMs may view as a negative.

4. Despite the clear talent gap between him and the next tier of prospects, would a team believe they can help a prospect reach his level by the time Michkov would actually reach the states?

5. Lastly, with the war against Ukraine still on going, would Michkov even be available?

As you can see, the reasons NOT to draft him seem to be many. His play can not be debated though at this point. He has accumulated 20 points in 27 games for Sochi, one of the worst teams I've seen in the KHL in some time. This is a feat in and of itself.

As a 5'10 winger that could clearly score goals in the NHL right now, which teams would truly draft him knowing all of these risk factors?

Let's start at the top. Columbus, San Jose, Chicago, and Anaheim. Those are the clear 4 teams that are at the bottom of the league. I do not believe that Columbus would take him even if they fell to the 3rd position. I think all the reasons listed above on top of the fact that maybe Michkov (and his representatives) may not view a small market team as a viable pairing. San Jose, just starting a rebuild, may see him as a risk to headline their hopes. Anaheim would be an amazing fit on the ice, but would they take him in the top 4 or 5 that I'm not sure of.

Then we get to the Blackhawks. Is Michkov worth taking for them? Absolutely he is because he is clearly the best player after Bedard and Fantilli on the board. There is this to think about though; whomever we draft if selecting 3rd-5th will be the centerpiece in our rebuild. Would the Wirtz family and Kyle Davidson want to "start" this given the 5 questions I listed?

Wouldn't a Will Smith, Zach Benson, or Leo Carlsson be a more understandable move? There is no doubt about it when it comes to Matvei Michkov: The risks are high. I, as a writer, am not on the line to say yes take him as he is the best talent and it's a simple answer. Kyle Davidsons' job is on the line though and the Wirtz' money is on the line. Those are very real things that play a huge role in this decision. Wouldn't we like to see Zach Benson in a Hawks' Fanatics (cringe) #6 jersey (he can't wear #9 obviously) years before praying that Michkov has finally come to America?

I think it comes down to this: Instant reaction starting at #3 will be "yes take him he is too good".... followed by "oh wait, we can't do ths". That leaves the list of teams that should consider him as these to me:

Detroit, Washington, Arizona, Montreal, Nashville, Minnesota, New York Rangers, Tampa Bay, and Vegas. I believe those teams are the most likely to grab Michkov if he starts to fall. I have reasons for selecting these teams. Some of which include past relationships with Russian born players, multiple selections in the top half of the draft, or the fact that they aren't a FA destination location and thusly must draft talent to have talent.

I do see a scenario in which Chicago sees Michkov drop past 8-10 and starts to see what the cost would be to move up from their second 1st round pick in the 20s. However, I do not think Michkov makes it past the 13-15 range.

This will be the the most difficult decision for teams inside the top 8 picks. I do not envy them at all. Once it gets into the 9-15 range, I do believe the risk goes down as the tier of prospects available drops making Michkov risk lower. Will the Blackhawks risk their top 5 pick on Michkov? Should they?

In 96 days we will all find out how this Matvei Michkov sceanrio plays out.