9:35 pm: The saga of Islanders prospect Kirill Petrov is nearing the crisis stage. At risk: the proper development of a talented young hockey player who desperately wants to play in North America today.
Here’s where the story is now. Petrov’s team in the KHL, Ak Bars, has now played three regular season games in their 2010-11 season. Of the three, the 6-3 right wing has hit the ice for only one. In that game, Petrov played just 8:10.
In an email, a scout who attended the game wrote to Point Blank, “Petrov looked very, very good. He is young compared to most players in the KHL, but he did not look out of place. For the little time he got, I thought he was one of Kazan’s best players.”
Ak Bars is one of the deepest and dominant teams in the KHL. Petrov has two years remaining on the four-year deal he signed prior to the 2008 NHL Draft. The contract was the reason why such a skilled and powerful forward was available when the Islanders selected him with their third pick in the third round.
At Islanders prospect camp, Petrov stated that his wish was to join the Islanders organization this season. He has become fond of the franchise and comfortable with his teammates. Petrov insisted he had no problem with playing in the minors for a couple of years, if necessary.
It’s doubtful Petrov would have to wait that long. On the first day of rookie camp, one high-ranking member of the Islanders family told Point Blank, “I hope we get Petrov here. He could really help us – soon.” The implication was that Petrov was good enough to see NHL ice this season.
Despite the best efforts of agent Alexander Tynjynch, Petrov has so far been unable to secure his release from Kazan. Reached tonight on his cellphone, a frustrated Tynjynch said that he would continue to pursue a solution for his client “until next week. If nothing then, well…”
Few people, of course, are going to be sympathetic to Petrov. After all, he was the one who signed a committment to Kazan as an 18-year-old for the next four years of his life. He is earning enough money that one NHL team executive, in a conversation with PB, questioned his true commitment to the NHL. The Islanders also knew what they were getting into when they made the low-risk, high-reward pick of Petrov – after non-prospect David Toews and since-traded Jyri Niemi in the third round.
But here’s why this is news, and should be of concern to the Islanders and their fans. If his KHL team won’t set the 20-year-old Petrov free to at least attend Islanders training camp – during a time when Kazan has played him in a total of eight minutes in three games – why would anyone think Petrov will be made available to the Islanders a year from now?
If Petrov goes four years from his NHL draft date playing limited minutes in the KHL, the Islanders would have a poorly developed player by the time the summer of 2012 comes around. That would be a shame.
The good news? Point Blank asked NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly if the Islanders could bring the unsigned Petrov to New York at any time, even if the KHL season has already begun. Emailed Daly:
Petrov has to be free of his contractual obligation in Russia before he would be eligible to play in the NHL. But there is no time limit or date by which that must happen.
In other words, if Ak Bars decided – next week, for example – to set Petrov free, he could still become an Islander. For the sake of a high-end talent, hopefully the Islanders, Tynjynch and Ak Bars can reach a settlement.
BOSTON 5 ISLANDERS 2
Nino Niederreiter and Robin Figren scored for the Islanders. Mikko Koskinen was sharp early, stopping 15 of 15 shots in the first, then looked human when the shots kept coming. Calvin de Haan will play better games, starting Thursday in Boston. Kid hadn’t played a game in a while. Travis Hamonic had an assist, won a fight and was iffy on defense. Niederreiter proved that he may want to wait a while until his next fight. David Ullstrom has certainly shown enough to deserve a good look when regular camp opens on Friday.
Like Steve Webb 15 years ago, rookie camp invitee Alex O’Neil is smart enough to make sure – love him or loathe him – everyone is going to know his name. He won his fight and threw a few hits. Jordan Caron had a hat trick for the Bruins. Best of all, as far as we can tell, no one on the visiting team got hurt.
Jack Capuano was the head coach behind the bench, with Eric Cairns and the outstanding teacher in Bridgeport, Pat Bingham, at his side.
Illustration No. 147 that owner Charles Wang is as emotionally-invested in his team as any in the NHL: he traveled to Boston today to watch Islanders prospects play in a pre-season rookie game.
Let me go out on a limb and state that no more than three fellow NHL club owners will travel beyond a few miles to see their teams play in any level of exhibition games this month. It’s possible Wang, who a year ago personally scouted John Tavares and Matt Duchene, is the only one.
But sure, Canada, keep those rumors coming about the Islanders’ owner divesting himself of the team.
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