On Monday night, the final game of the 2023-24 NHL season will take place with Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. Once again, the playoffs have been a friendly reminder of just how far the Flyers have to go to be a contender. And the biggest missing piece for the Flyers is cornerstone players.

It’s the top-line center that you can lean on for both offense and defense. It’s the top defenseman who delivers elite offense while being just as reliable in his defensive play. It’s the playmaking star that you look to in the clutch moments – on a late-game power play, in overtime, with the goalie pulled and in need of a late goal.

For the Flyers rebuild to be successful, they will need to acquire these types of players. It will be started through the draft and developing prospects. It can be finished with future trades and signings. But building the foundation is essential.

Building that foundation requires taking a few swings. Just weeks after officially being named Flyers GM, Danny Briere took one of those swings on June 28. With his first pick in the 2023 NHL Draft at seventh overall, Briere made the announcement that the Flyers were selecting Matvei Michkov.

Michkov was a highly-regarded Russian prospect that came with baggage. The biggest question was when he would arrive in the NHL. With a three-year contract with SKA St. Petersburg in the KHL, there was every reason to believe Michkov’s arrival was several seasons away.

This made some teams sour on Michkov. He slipped out of the top five after being projected to be selected there all season. After the Flyers made the selection, it was later reported that Michkov had secretly visited the Flyers facility in Voorhees in the week prior to the draft and had expressed interest in playing for the Flyers sooner.

On Sunday, that possibility took the next step to reality. After wide speculation, reports surfaced that Michkov would indeed be joining the Flyers for the 2024-25 season with an entry-level deal expected to be finalized on Monday.

Briere had talked about this exact scenario at his pre-draft availability last Thursday. Sometimes, to get the best talent, you have to take a chance. Michkov’s impending arrival in North America, two seasons earlier than expected, would be a successful swing.

That doesn’t mean Michkov is just going to slot in and change the Flyers overnight. He will have growing pains. He will have slumps. He will have to adjust to the North American game. But Michkov’s success at every other level made it a worthwhile swing. A large part of the risk was simply getting Michkov into North American and into a Flyers uniform. And it appears that will happen ahead of schedule.

The news comes at a time when Briere is mere days away from potentially drafting the next piece of the puzzle. It brings about more confidence that Briere can lead the Flyers through this rebuild.

Now that Michkov appears to be joining the fold, it’s important to remember that this is simply a stepping stone, not the final step. Michkov will bring the Flyers some of the high-end talent they have desperately needed. What Briere does next – in this offseason, next offseason, potentially three offseasons down the line – will dictate how successful the rebuild truly is, now that he can move forward knowing his first swing for the fence will have the chance to pay bigger dividends in the NHL.

There are plenty of things to watch with Michkov. His adjustment to the NHL. His relationship with head coach John Tortorella. What his skill can do for teammates or for the power-play units. It will be an instant draw, the attention-grabber that fans will need while the Flyers go through the rest of the process.

Whether this ultimately speeds up the timeline for the rebuild or simply inserts one of the high-end pieces that is needed for the franchise to rebuild successfully, that may be the most important thing. In the immediate, the Flyers have their highly-touted prospect ready to step on the ice and potentially make a difference within a game.

A year into the “New Era of Orange,” the possible future face of the franchise may be ushering in year two.

Kevin Durso is Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN. Follow him on social media @Kevin_Durso.

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