“He’s a very talented player, no doubt about that. He has rare individual skills and he makes plays that many others cannot. But there were things that did not satisfy us in his case and we preferred another player. »

This quote is not from Kent Hughes, but from fellow San Jose Sharks Mike Grier. It obviously concerns Matvei Michkov, the “Russian Connor Bedard”, according to several observers, drafted seventh overall by the Philadelphia Flyers.

Michkov may become a big star in the National Hockey League. He has the talent. But the Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Sharks, Canadiens and Arizona Coyotes preferred not to take the risk. And it is their right.

It’s not just the contractual situation in Michkov’s case. Moreover, the Coyotes have drafted another Russian before him in sixth place, defender Dmitry Simashev, under contract with Yaroslavl until 2025.

One of the Washington Capitals scouts, Andrei Nikolishin, a former striker for the organization between 1996 and 2002, even dared to publicly express negative opinions about the young man, in a video posted on YouTube, a dozen days before the draft. Nikolishin tried to reach the young man this winter to talk to him. “I could show you our correspondence when I wanted to meet him to get to know him. In all my life, I have never witnessed such disrespect for others.”

Michkov has been the source of multiple conflicts with his entourage in Russia, in training and in the locker room. He could challenge the authority of his coaches and outright refuse to follow the game plan.

We’ll spare you the rest of the details. The young man is 18 years old, has just lost his father tragically and can still mature in the coming years. But there were enough red flags in his case that five teams, after Bedard’s choice in Chicago, opted for another player.

Daniel Brière chose to take this risk. All the better if Michkov thrives with the Flyers when he arrives in North America, in 2026 or later. Philadelphia is starting its reconstruction and can afford to wait.

And we have already seen immature young players at the start of their career transform. “I don’t consider the Penguins my team anymore; I already have two Stanley Cup rings, I don’t need more, I just want money, beaches and women,” said Jaromir Jagr after two seasons in the NHL. Jagr wanted to be traded to a city where the weather was nice and warm.

Jagr stayed nine more years in Pittsburgh and had one 90-plus season and four 100-plus seasons. At 51, after amassing 1,921 career points, he still plays hockey in Kladno, where there aren’t many beaches.

This is the grace we wish Brière and the Flyers.

The reaction of some fans is amazing. Some have even dared to draw a parallel between the choice of right-handed defender David Fischer in 2006 in front of Claude Giroux.

David Fischer was playing for his Apple Valley, Minnesota high school team in his qualifying year. The American team hadn’t even selected him for the World Under-18 Championship.

At 18, David Reinbacher was a mainstay at Kloten in the Swiss National League. His teammate for two years, Quebecer Éric Faille, 33, is full of praise for him in an interview with our colleagues at RDS.

“He scored more points than Josi in his first year in the same league. It’s still something. He’s a complete player, with a good first pass, checks, offensive flair and good skating. David was running our power play and he was 18 years old. He was playing against adults aged 25-30. He had become our best defender and no one was talking about him at the start of the year, no one knew him. Everyone was talking about Michkov, Fantilli, Bedard. »

A member of the same organization, teammate, coach or general manager, will always tend to embellish the picture. As you will never see a teammate of Michkov in St. Petersburg or Sochi publicly make a negative comment on this one. The fact remains that any comparison with David Fischer is far-fetched.

At this time or almost last year, many fans cried foul because the Canadian had dared to shun the long-awaited center, Shane Wright, in favor of a winger, Juraj Slafkovsky. Montreal had just missed the opportunity to draft their Patrice Bergeron, a center that many called the most gifted player of his generation.

Twelve months later, Wright’s junior club was swept in four games, in a series in which the youngster picked up three points. In the American League playoffs, Wright had 9 points in 25 games, including only 2 goals.

Today, the same people who blamed the Canadian for not having chosen a center because it was a deficiency within the organization blame the team for having preferred a right-handed defender to fill a deficiency in this post.

What if David Reinbacher is the best player available at fifth tier in the eyes of CH given concerns over Michkov? If Kent Hughes compared Ryan Leonard’s style of play to that of the Tkachuk brothers, two of the NHL’s best power forwards, why didn’t he choose him? Wouldn’t he have wanted to send mixed signals to cover his tracks?

An NHL club has a one-in-two chance of winning a star with a pick between No. 1 and No. 5, according to internal data. This rate drops to 20% between the sixth and tenth choices.

Reinbacher may be Kaiden Guhle’s eventual partner in the first pair of defenders, maybe not. If he becomes a third or fourth defenseman, he will fall into the category of the other 50%. But he won’t be a bad choice. Like nothing guarantees Ryan Leonard 40-goal seasons, or Zach Benson an 80-point annual production.

When Moritz Seider was drafted sixth overall by the Detroit Red Wings in 2019, with Dylan Cozens, Trevor Zegras and Vasili Podkolzin among the players still available, murmurs were heard in the crowd.

“We didn’t see it coming, it’s a shock,” the TV commentator said. Seider had a very good season, obviously. He reminds me of Brandon Carlo, although he is better offensively. But I see Brandon Carlo (the defensive-minded defenseman for the Boston Bruins) exactly when I see Seider play. It was believed that the first defenders would be drafted between the 10th and 20th rank. »

It is not a question here of comparing Reinbacher to Seider. But beware of preconceived ideas. We doubted Seider’s offensive potential before the draft. At 20, he amassed 50 points and won the Calder Trophy as the most outstanding rookie. He is already the number one defenseman in Detroit. And we wonder today how Kaapo Kakko, Kirby Dach and Alex Turcotte could have been drafted before him.

We also reacted badly in Montreal in 2020 when the CH preferred a defender from the West, Kaiden Guhle, to Quebec striker Hendrix Lapierre in 16th place. Today, no one questions this choice of the former administration.

The Canadiens are yet to reveal their plans regarding the short-term development of David Reinbacher.

The young man could try to earn a position in Montreal at training camp (he will be 19 in October, therefore one of the oldest players in his vintage), continue his apprenticeship with the Laval Rocket or play another season. in Kloten.

The American League remains an interesting option since Europeans are eligible, unlike players from the junior ranks. Two other right-handed defensemen, Simon Nemec, second overall pick in 2022, and David Jiricek, sixth overall the same year, followed this path this winter.

The team management may also opt for Switzerland, where Reinbacher can continue to develop at his own pace, away from whispers and criticism. The reaction of many fans since Wednesday evening would have given CH managers food for thought…