Oilers’ Petrov Flying Under Radar After Successful OHL Season

Edmonton Oilers prospect Matvey Petrov had a dynamic first season playing in North America. The 19-year-old suited up in 63 games for the North Bay Battalion of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) in 2021-22 and amassed 40 goals and 50 assists. He finished ninth in scoring in the entire OHL, which is regarded as one of the top player development leagues in the world.

The Athletic’s Corey Pronman released an article that ranked the 170 best NHL players and prospects under 23 years old. There were some notable Oilers that made the list, including Evan Bouchard at the No. 19 spot, Philip Broberg at No. 76, and Xavier Bourgault at No. 120 (from ‘Ranking the Best NHL Players and Prospects Under 23: Jack Hughes Tops the List,’ The Athletic, 08/29/22).

You’d have to think that Petrov, with his top 10 finish in OHL scoring, in his first season playing on North American ice, would’ve cracked Pronman’s list of 170 best players 23 and under. Unfortunately, he did not, and it seems like the 180th pick from the 2021 NHL draft still isn’t getting the recognition he deserves.

Petrov Flew Under the Radar at the NHL Draft

Petrov was selected first overall by North Bay in the 2020 Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Import Draft in June 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic. Then just 17, he was coming off a nine-point season in 21 games for Moscow Krylia Sovetov of the Junior Hockey League (MHL). He was the first Russian selected first overall since Carolina Hurricanes’ star Andrei Svechnikov was chosen by the Barrie Colts back in 2017.

Following the postponement and cancellation of the 2020–21 OHL season, Petrov stayed with his MHL team in Moscow, where he amassed 22 goals and 20 assists in 58 games. He also won a silver medal at the 2021 U18 World Championship in April of that season.

Prior to the 2021 NHL draft, his projections were all over the board. TSN’s Craig Button ranked him at No. 70, while hockey analyst Bob McKenzie projected him to be taken at the No. 92 spot. Yet, because of the pandemic and limited travel among scouts, teams weren’t able to get an in-depth look at Petrov’s in-person play.

Matvei Petrov North Bay Battalion
Matvey Petrov, North Bay Battalion (Josh Kim / The Hockey Writers)

That boded well for the Oilers because he flew under most NHL teams’ radar. Despite his pedigree of being a first overall choice in the OHL Import Draft, he fell down the rankings, and Edmonton was fortunate to select him in the sixth round with the 180th pick. The Oilers wasted little time putting pen to paper and signed Petrov to an entry-level deal on Nov. 10, 2021.

Petrov Didn’t Make Pronman’s List After Successful OHL Season

Petrov’s first season in North America — with 90 points in 60 games — couldn’t have gone any better, yet that still wasn’t enough to earn him a spot on Pronman’s list of 170 best players 23 years old and under. Let’s take a look at notable players that made the list over Petrov.

The Russian winger’s ex-Battalion teammate Brandon Coe finished his fourth OHL season with 11 more points than Petrov, and the San Jose Sharks draft pick landed at Pronman’s 148th spot. Columbus Blue Jackets prospect, Luca Del Bel Belluz, tallied 76 points, finished 24th in OHL scoring, and was given spot No. 143 on Pronman’s list. New York Rangers prospect Brennan Othmann recorded only seven more points than Petrov and made No. 98 on the list. An additional fun fact — the fourth-overall pick from this year’s draft, Shane Wright, scored only four more points than Petrov last season.

In addition to finishing with the ninth most points in the OHL, which, according to The Hockey Writers’ Eugene Helfrick, ranks top 10 in the best ice hockey leagues in the world, he also scored the 15th most goals as a 19-year-old. Yet, after a remarkable season, it seems as though he still hasn’t attracted the attention of some hockey pundits.

On another note, Petrov didn’t even receive a ranking on Pronman’s list in a different article that specifically ranked the Oilers’ prospects. The winger from Moscow, Russia, was only given an honourable mention under the players with “A chance to play.” His analysis indicated that Petrov had a lot of offensive talent, but he mentioned his skating isn’t the best, and he doesn’t get inside to the net (from ‘Edmonton Oilers Rank No. 18 in NHL Pipeline Rankings for 2022,’ The Athletic, 08/23/22).

Petrov’s Outlook for the 2022-23 Season

At 6-foot-2, 181 pounds, Petrov is best known for his shooting ability and willingness to unleash it. He’s a pure sniper who loves to set up for a one-timer on the power play with a lightning-quick release (from ‘If this late-round draft steal pans out, Edmonton Oilers can thank Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle,’ Edmonton Journal, 09/20/21).

Related: Oilers Are Canada’s Best Shot at the Stanley Cup in 2022- 2023

The outlook for the young Russian sniper this season is to have a good outing in the rookie camp and stand out at the Young Stars Classic in Penticton, BC. Thereafter, the expectation is that he’ll be sent down to his junior team in North Bay for his final year.

Petrov’s former teammates Coe and Mitchell Russell are expected to turn pro this season, leaving Petrov to be the main offensive catalyst for the Battalion. That said, he should catch the attention of the hockey world if he puts together another excellent season in North America as the go-to player in North Bay.

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