Oilers’ Prospect Petrov Taking World Juniors Snub Out on OHL

Matvey Petrov could have spent the holidays in Alberta. The Edmonton Oilers prospect should have got a call last week telling him to pick his bags and catch the next flight west.

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

But instead of joining Team Russia for the upcoming IIHF World Junior Championship in Edmonton and Red Deer, Petrov is sticking around in Ontario, where the North Bay Battalion forward will continue to light up goalies like a Christmas tree.

Despite being one of the most dynamic offensive players in all of the Canadian Hockey League (CHL), Petrov’s name wasn’t on the list last Tuesday (Dec. 14) when Russia unveiled its roster for the 2022 World Juniors. The news came as no great shock: Petrov’s fate was pretty much sealed when the 18-year-old from Moscow was left off Russia’s preliminary roster that was announced in late November. But that doesn’t make his omission from Team Russia any less egregious.

Petrov Has Burst on the Scene With North Bay

In his first season in North America, Petrov has taken the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) by storm, racking up 20 goals and 29 assists in 29 games. He is the only player that ranks top five in the OHL in goals, assists, and points, and his 49 points are fifth-most in the entire CHL.

From Nov. 4 to Dec. 11, Petrov had a 12-game point streak. He’s recorded at least three points in a game eight times and has already potted two hat tricks, joining Matt Duchene as the only players in Battalion history to record two three-goal games in their first season with the team.

The 6-foot-2 winger, who was drafted first overall in the 2020 CHL Import Draft but remained in Russia last year and played in the Junior Hockey League (MHL) because the 2020-21 OHL season was canceled, has progressed with remarkable consistency at an astonishing rate: Breaking down his first 28 games with the Battalion into four seven-game segments, Petrov recorded 8, 10, 14, and 16 points.

Being Left Off Team Russia Roster Can Be Motivator

If he has been affected by the World Juniors snub, it’s only been to the detriment of North Bay’s opposition: Petrov has 22 points in 10 games since the announcement of Russia’s preliminary roster and five points in two games following last week’s roster finalization.

“I certainly thought that Matvey Petrov would have a chance his year,” Battalion general manager Adam Dennis said in a media availability after the World Junior preliminary rosters were announced. North Bay’s GM said being left off can be “used as motivation for next year” and “this second half of the year is a good showcase … to get a chance at next year’s team.”

Russia’s Roster Decisions Raise Questions

Not making Team Russia likely has little to do with Petrov’s abilities so much as where he’s developing them. Conspicuously, only players currently playing domestically in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) or MHL were selected. Other notable names absent from Russia’s roster include defenseman Daniil Gushchin of the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs.

In a press release, Team Russia general manager Sergei Zubov said of not choosing any North American players, “We came to the conclusion that the players who have been training with us here in Russia are stronger defensively. The strongest players have been picked.” However, junior hockey observers in North American media suggest the decision is political.

Petrov’s sensational play makes the Oilers look brilliant for managing to snag him in the sixth round (180th overall) of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. In November, Petrov became the first of Edmonton’s six 2021 draft picks to sign an Entry Level Contract (ELC), agreeing to a three-year ELC with the Oilers.

Related Link: Oilers Prospect Petrov Could Be Steal of the 2021 Draft

Unfortunately for Oilers fans in Alberta, they’ll have to wait to see Petrov in person. During World Juniors, Russia will play at least four games at Red Deer’s Peavey Mart Centrium could play as many as three games at Rogers Place in Edmonton.

On New Year’s Eve, when Russia is taking on the powerhouse Americans in a mammoth preliminary round match-up that could decide first place in Group B, the Battalion will be hosting the Oshawa Generals in OHL regular-season action. Team USA certainly won’t mind that Petrov isn’t in uniform for the Russians that night. The Generals might feel differently.

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