It was announced earlier this morning that Matvei Michkov will remain a healthy scratch for the second straight game as SKA St. Petersburg takes on HC Lada Togliatti in the KHL.
This past Saturday, Sept 2, the highly touted Philadelphia Flyers prospect was also a healthy scratch for SKA St. Petersburg’s regular season opener against Dynamo Moscow. SKA managed to pull out the 2-1 victory in Michkov’s absence.
Michkov’s scratches have occurred after the forward played well in SKA’s early preseason outings. The talented prospect had strong showings even while playing center, an entirely new position. Not only did Michkov score at least a point in almost every preseason game, the prospect was contributing on the ice in other ways as well.
Michkov showed tenacity on the forecheck along with a desire to compete for the puck, including on the backcheck and deep in his defensive zone. Michkov’s preseason was far from errorless hockey with one period being quite rough due to a few turnovers. Aside from that period there was not much to critique regarding Michkov’s all around performance in the KHL preseason.
The young forward saw his ice time reduced drastically as the preseason continued. Michkov played only eight minutes and five minutes, respectively over the course of two games that took place between August 19-24. Eventually this led to Michkov becoming a healthy scratch in the preseason on August 25th when SKA took on HC Sibir Novosibirsk. Such on ice usage above has clearly led to Michkov being utilized in a similar manner for SKA’s first two regular season games.
After SKA’s regular season opener took place head coach Roman Rotenberg spoke on the decision to scratch Michkov. He relayed that Michkov would have to earn his way into SKA’s lineup but, in upcoming games, would rotate in as the team’s 13th forward.
Typically, the KHL is not considered to be a developmental league for young prospects and players. As a result, Michkov receiving limited ice time despite his talent level is far from unusual. There seems to be a scenario unfolding with Michkov and head coach Rotenberg, where Rotenberg the strong-willed coach is attempting to establish control over a young, equally strong-willed player in Michkov.
The situation above explains the hesitancy NHL organizations may have had when considering Michkov as a draft option. It’s evident that the Philadelphia Flyers lack control of their seventh overall pick’s development path due to his contract with SKA for the next three seasons.
The most important thing for the talented forward is to receive enough ice time to continue developing at both ends of the ice throughout this upcoming KHL regular season. Whether that’s with SKA St. Petersburg or another KHL club (due to loan), time will certainly tell. But the timing of Michkov’s healthy scratch was noteworthy given the tension that had already arisen between the Flyers and KHL regarding another Flyers prospect: Ivan Fedotov.
Ivan Fedotov’s KHL situation
CSKA Moscow goaltender Ivan Fedotov started in net for the KHL club this past Friday, violating the sanctions and a ruling imposed by the IIHF.
The IIHF decided last month that Fedotov’s NHL contract would be tolled after he missed last season due to his military service in Russia. The ruling voided Fedotov’s newly signed two-year contract with CSKA, with the KHL club also receiving a one-year international transfer ban. Instead, the IIHF’s decision was in the favor of the NHL and the Flyers.
“Based on the evidence provided to the IIHF by the involved parties, the IIHF has determined that Ivan Fedotov has a valid NHL Contract with the Philadelphia Flyers Hockey Club for the 2023/2024 season,” the IIHF said. “Accordingly, the IIHF has determined that Ivan Fedotov was in breach of a Professional Player Contract per Article II.4.1 of the IIHF International Transfer Regulations when he signed a contract with CSKA hockey club for the 2023/2024 season.”
As a result of the ruling, Fedotov received a four-month ban from playing in official national and international games. If Fedotov continues to play for CSKA despite the suspension, the IIHF may impose more sanctions on the player and CSKA Moscow in the future.
Fedotov was originally drafted by the Flyers in the seventh round of the 2015 NHL Draft, 188th overall. The talented goaltender also helped the Russians reach the Olympic final in 2022 before losing to Finland. Fedotov has been one of the KHL’s top goalies since 2019-20. He’s regularly posted goals against averages below 2.21 between 2019 and 2022 while putting up save percentages ranging from .919 to .931.