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Home Opinion Bedard is the top prospect of 2023 NHL Entry Draft, Russian Michkov should be disqualified from those talks

Bedard is the top prospect of 2023 NHL Entry Draft, Russian Michkov should be disqualified from those talks

Bedard is the top prospect of 2023 NHL Entry Draft, Russian Michkov should be disqualified from those talks
Conner Bedard fires a shot on goal during a game against the Prince Albert Raiders. -- Photo by Darren Steinke.

You’d think there were no problems in Ukraine these days when you read the initial stories regarding prospects for the 2023 NHL Entry Draft.

It feels like places like the Hockey News and other outlets that have put out initial draft rankings haven’t heard that Russia invaded Ukraine in an unprovoked manner back in February and there is still an unjust war going on between those two countries.  How else is Russian right-winger Matvei Michkov still in the discussions about being a potential top three selection in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft?

Basically, these reports say that Michkov is so good that he could rival centre Connor Bedard of the WHL’s Regina Pats for talent and being the top selection in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. These reposts rarely mention the words “war” or “Ukraine.”

They usually mention Michkov is under contract to St. Petersburg of the KHL until the end of the 2025-26 season, so NHL teams will have to wait to get him.

Even the esteemed Bob McKenzie never mentioned the words “war” or “Ukraine” in a five-minute segment talking about his pre-season rankings for the 2023 NHL Entry Draft on TSN in late September. Michkov was ranked second in McKenzie’s rankings behind Bedard.

McKenzie mentioned Michkov’s contract in the KHL, and then he talked about the sanctions against Russia. That was as close as McKenzie came mentioning the fact Russia was at war with Ukraine after deciding to invade Ukraine.

To be fair, McKenzie did have a story on the TSN website about his draft rankings on Sept. 22, and in that story he mentioned Russia’s war with Ukraine as one of the factors that makes it hard to determine where Michkov goes in the NHL Entry Draft or when he might be able to come over to North America.

The talk about Michkov has to come up, because in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, 23 Russians were selected including three in the first round. Out of those 23 Russian players, only three played in one of Canada’s three major junior leagues last season. With that move, NHL teams by their actions said Russia’s invasion and subsequent war with Ukraine doesn’t mean a thing.

The same goes with the 44 Canadians that are playing in KHL teams located in Russia and Belarus, who supports Russia in the invasion of Ukraine. With their moves, those players have said by their actions that Russia’s invasion and subsequent war with Ukraine doesn’t mean a thing.

In Russia where politics and sports walk hand in hand, you can be sure that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government will say these developments on the hockey front are signs that Russia was indeed in the right in its decision to invade and try and take over Ukraine.

In late September, the Canadian government repeated a warning to Canadian players playing in Russia and Belarus to get out of those countries.

Unlike the NHL, the CHL, which over sees the WHL, OHL and QMJHL major junior hockey leagues, banned Russian and Belarusian players from being selected in the CHL Import Draft that was held July 1.

Going forward, it would nice if prospects such as Brayden Yager of the Moose Jaw Warriors, Zach Benson of the Winnipeg Ice and Nate Danielson of the Brandon Wheat Kings got more of the spotlight after talk of Bedard being almost a lock to go first overall in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft.

When Michkov or any other Russian or Belarusian prospect that is still in their home countries is brought up, the first thing that should come to mind is the difficulty of bringing them over due to Russia’s invasion of and subsequent war with Ukraine.

Right now, talk about Michkov or any Russian or Belarusian player still playing in their home country like they are any other prospect for the NHL Entry Draft should be cringe worthy.

Raiders hit homer with captain picks

The Prince Albert Raiders smashed the ball out of the park with their captain selections for the current season.

On Tuesday, the Raiders announced that 19-year-old defenceman Nolan Allan will be the club’s captain, while overage defenceman Landon Kosior, overage winger Evan Herman and 19-year-old winger Carson Latimer are the alternate captains for the 2022-23 campaign. Allan, Kosior and Herman are career Raiders having been with the team for a lengthy time, while Latimer was acquired from the Edmonton Oil Kings on Dec. 1, 2021 as part of the blockbuster trade that send star rearguard Kaiden Guhle to the Alberta capital.

Prince Albert Raiders defenceman Nolan Allan controls the puck during the 2021-22 WHL season. — Photo by Darren Steinke.

Allan recently returned from the training camp of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, who selected him in the first round and 32nd overall in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. The Davidson product appeared in 65 regular season games with the Raiders last season posting career highs in goals (seven), assists (34) and points (41).

He has always focused on the defensive aspect in his own end, but he has proven he can produce on the offensive end and quarterback the power play. Allan was named the Raiders most valuable player last season.

Allan, Kosior and Herman all joined the Raiders as rookies on a full-time basis in 2019-20 and have been front and centre representing the team well in the community. Allan and Herman were alternate captains last season, and all three were natural selections to be part of the Raiders leadership group this season.

Latimer has fit right in with the Raiders since coming over from the Oil Kings. In the 47 career regular season games he has played with the Raiders, Latimer has 12 goals and 22 assists. An alternate captain role was a nice reward for the work he has put in with the team.

As for the Raiders 1-3-1 start to the current campaign, it is still early. The sample size isn’t large enough to determine how their campaign will ultimate play out.

The only thing that can be concluded is the Winnipeg Ice are legit one of the CHL’s top teams. The Ice started out winning their first four games, and they are loaded with high-end players that helped them top the WHL standings last year at 53-10-3-2.