Kirill Marchenko Proof That Matvei Michkov Will Be Worth the Wait if Blue Jackets Draft Him

By Coby Maeir on March 29, 2023 at 1:45 pm
Kirill Marchenko celebrates after scoring his 20th goal of the season in the Blue Jackets vs. Rangers game.
Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

Let's pretend it's May 8, and the Blue Jackets just lost the NHL's Draft Lottery, falling out of the top-two spots. That means their chances of drafting Connor Bedard or Adam Fantilli, barring any seismic changes, are zero. 

Now, let's fast forward to June 28, the first round of the 2023 NHL Draft. The Blue Jackets are on the clock and Bedard and Fantilli, as expected, went first and second overall, respectively. The Jackets have the choice between, among other players, star Swede Leo Carlsson, USNTDP product Will Smith (imagine if the Flyers draft him), and Russian sensation Matvei Michkov

Like Bedard, Michkov has been one of the stars of this year's draft class for the last couple of seasons after making a statement at the 2021 IIHF U18 World Championship, leading the tournament in scoring (12-4--16 in 7 GP) and winning the tournament MVP as a 16-year-old. In that tournament, he scored more points than Bedard, 2022 No. 4 overall pick Shane Wright, and 2021 No. 3 overall pick Mason McTavish. 

Among the 14 different rankings for Michkov on, he ranges from as high as No. 2 to as low as No. 4, as of March 29. 

So, if the Blue Jackets think he's the clear-cut third-best player in the draft or the best player left on the board, it should be a no-brainer to take him, right?

Well, not exactly. Michkov is under contract with SKA St. Petersburg through the 2025-2026 season, meaning he will come to North America as a 21-year-old ahead of the 2026-27 campaign. 

While his delayed arrival in the U.S., and in this scenario, Columbus, may scare some fans, it shouldn't. 

In 2018, the Blue Jackets used the 49th-overall pick to select Russian winger Kirill Marchenko, who did not come to North America until 2022-23. Well, on Tuesday, Marchenko tied a franchise rookie record for single-season goals with 20, reaching that mark in his 50th game, while Pierre-Luc Dubois, the man Marchenko shares the record with, scored his 20th goal in his 80th game. 

Marchenko looks like he can be a perennial 30-goal-scorer in the NHL, and Michkov looks like he can be a superstar winger for a long time. If the Blue Jackets believe he's the best player on the board at the time they're on the clock, they should take him and worry about everything else later. You should always take the best player available, especially when that player has the potential that Michkov has. And yes, I know using a top-five pick on a player who won't be here for three more years is not the same as doing so with a second-round pick, but Marchenko has been an impact player since he was called up from the AHL. Michkov has been playing against grown men in the KHL for two years already, so he should be physically ready to play in the NHL, as Marchenko has shown to be. 

If the Blue Jackets don't think he's the best player on the board when they're on the clock, fine. But passing on a potential superstar winger because he's not going to be here for three years is ridiculous in my opinion. 

I'm sure fans would prefer to see the team's 2023 first-round pick playing at Nationwide Arena as soon as this fall, but it's important to think about the bigger picture. 

If the Jackets draft Michkov, he will be worth the wait.

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