A good portion of the 2023 World Juniors conversation will be about the 2023 NHL draft class. Three of the presumed top-four picks will be in attendance as Connor Bedard and Adam Fantili are on Canada, while Leo Carlsson is representing Sweden.
The fourth player in that group is Matvei Michkov, the Russian superstar forward.
For the longest time, Michkov and Bedard went hand-in-hand when talking about the upcoming draft class, as the two have proven to be elite talents that will go early in the first round.
However, Michkov will not be at the 2023 World Juniors competing against the likes of Bedard, Fantilli and Carlsson. Instead of getting a chance to play against the best of kids his age group and above, Michkov is going to be back in his home country.
MORE: 2023 World Juniors schedule, standings, results
Here is why Michkov is not playing at the 2023 World Juniors.
Why is Matvei Michkov not at the 2023 World Juniors?
Michkov is not at the World Juniors because Russia is currently serving an indefinite ban from the IIHF after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The IIHF Council met in late February of 2022 and decided to suspend all Russian and Belarusian national teams from competing at any and all IIHF-sanctioned events.
“The IIHF is not a political entity and cannot influence the decisions being taken over the war in Ukraine,” IIHF President Luc Tardif said in a statement in February. “We nevertheless have a duty of care to all of our members and participants and must therefore do all we can to ensure that we are able to operate our events in a safe environment for all teams taking part in the IIHF World Championship program.”
Michkov was with Russia at the original 2022 World Juniors that was played in December of 2021. He had three goals in two games before the competition was canceled due to COVID-19.
MORE: Every NHL draft pick at the 2023 World Juniors
Russia was not at the 2022 World Juniors that were rescheduled for August. It was the first time since the creation of the IIHF annual tourney that Russia was not represented in some capacity, (either as the Soviet Union, Commonwealth of Independent States or Russia).
Is Matvei Michkov eligible to play at the 2024 World Juniors?
Michkov was born in 2004, so he will still be eligible to play at the 2024 World Juniors. However, whether Russia is reinstated from the IIHF is up in the air.
The IIHF’s ban stated that ” all Russian and Belarusian National Teams and Clubs are suspended from participation in every age category and in all IIHF competitions or events until further notice.”
Tardif stated in October of 2022 that the IIHF has been in contact with the Russian Federation and that “everyone wants the return of Russia and Belarus to the program of the World Championships.” A decision on whether the two countries should return to international competition is expected in May of 2023 when the IIHF holds its Annual Congress.
MORE: Connor Bedard, Adam Fantilli top 2023 draft prospects at World Juniors
If Russia is allowed back into the competition, Michkov certainly will be with the team at the 2024 World Juniors.
When will Matvei Michkov be in the NHL?
Michkov is a 2023 draft-eligible player, so his name will be called next summer when the NHL holds its draft event. Any player that is drafted in 2023 can immediately join their NHL organization for the 2023-24 season.
With that said, Michkov will not be coming over to North America to play in the NHL or AHL any time soon. He recently signed a contract extension with the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg that will keep him on the team through the 2025-26 season.
It’s less than ideal for potential teams that are looking to draft the Russian star. However, given Michkov’s talents, he is well worth an investment from a club not looking to contend immediately.
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