Kirill Petrov was a pretty well thought of prospect heading into the 2008 NHL Draft. However, due to a pre-existing contract in Russia and uncertainty if he would ever come to North America his stock dropped and the Islanders managed to grab him in the third round. As the years passed by, most fans began to doubt that Petrov would ever make his way over to North America and would instead spend his career in Russia. However, news earlier this week that the Islanders signed Petrov to a 1 year entry-level contract signals that the waiting may soon be coming to an end.
— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) June 1, 2015
Why Come Now?
I don’t think Petrov coming now is a coincidence as there were more than a few factors that played into it. First being the presence of Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolay Kulemin who signed with the Islanders as free agents last summer. If you recall, the one time Petrov came over for rookie camp he stuck close with countryman Kirill Kabanov. While the presence of Kulemin and Grabovski may not be a huge thing, I definitely think it played a part in his decision. Additionally, I think the Islanders move to Brooklyn had an impact as it did in the Islanders signing of Kulemin and Grabovski last summer. The two of them actually noted in interviews after signing last year that the Barclays Center played a role in their decision to come here. Much like it did for them I think Petrov had similar thoughts. Lastly, it would not surprise me if the declining Russian economy played a role in Petrov coming over. With the KHL in flux, Petrov is doing what many others are and coming over to North America into a more stable situation.
What Does This Mean?
With the Islanders already having pretty good depth at forward, what does the addition of Petrov signal for the summer and next season? One thing it could signal is that Michael Grabners days as an Islander could be numbered. After having a 34 goal rookie season and earning a 5 year contract, Grabner has never lived up to that potential and it really came to a head this past season as he only played in 34 games due to injury. While his value might not be high, it might be best for both parties for a change of scenery. Also, Petrov could serve as motivation for some of the younger forwards to stay on their game and not think they have a spot reserved already. At only 25, Petrov isn’t old and fits right into the age bracket of the core of the team.
Where Does He Fit?
This is the million dollar question when it comes to Petrov, for me at least. Unless he has a good camp, I think he ends up in Bridgeport, to start the season at least. At 6’3, 198 pounds, Petrov would add much-needed size to the Islanders smallish lineup. However he needs time to adjust to the North American game which has significant differences from that of the KHL. Also with the Islanders having graduated a few forward prospects to the big club recently, Petrov would be a useful player for Bridgeport. Petrov will definitely be one of the more followed stories for the Islanders in training camp when it opens in September.