By Jonathan Morvay
Although he is an ocean away in the Czech Republic, Kirill Petrov
is determined to prove the Islanders were wise to draft him. Selected in the third round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, the 73rd overall pick is making his mark amongst the many Islanders prospects. Given the chance to display his talents in the most recent Under-20 Four Nations Tournament, Petrov didn't disappoint.
The powerful forward came out flying in Russia's first game. Out-hitting and out-skating the competition, Petrov scored three goals in the game, a 4-3 victory for Russia. Being watched closely by Islanders Chief European Scout Vellu-Pekka Kautonen, Petrov was described as being “the best player in the first game.”
In game two, Petrov continued to contribute to his Russian team. His high-level of intensity, and drive to win, made the Russians one of the strongest teams in the tournament. Petrov had an assist in the game, bringing his point tally in the tournament to four.
Former NHL player, and current Russian Head Coach Sergei Nemchinov, was extremely pleased with Petrov's play. Although Petrov did not score in the second game, Nemchinov noted to Kautonen that he was happy with his performance.
After propelling his country into the championship game against host nation Czech Republic, Petrov did his best to earn his team a first place finish. Unfortunately, Petrov and his teammates would be kept in check by the Czechs, and would settle for a second place finish. Although Petrov failed to notch any points in the final game, his excitement and fury on the ice did not cease.
“Everyone seemed a bit sluggish at times, but Kirill kept up the same level of intensity during all the games, which is good to see," said Kautonen. “He's a big guy at 6'3, 218 pounds, and he certainly knows how to finish his checks.”
Staying in Russia for at least one more year with his club team, AK Bars, Petrov is gaining valuable experience in tournaments, while showcasing his skills to scouts - and the world. Kautonen, who has been following Petrov since the Islanders drafted him, feels very confident in his skills and determination.
“In regards to all the forwards in the tournament, he belongs in the top three," said Kautonen. "Kirill belongs with the best. He's very mature for his age, and he's very strong. Although there's always room for improvement, he's the complete package. But he's young and his future is bright.”Click here to watch Islanders TV video from the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.