Admit it. You've been watching the KHL (and reading our liveblogs) only because you're following your favorite NHL players during the lockout. It's alright, I'm not faulting you for it, it's sort of the logical move. But have you actually sat down and watched the KHL? It's surprisingly good. There's quite a few KHL players, be they Russians or European that you should be paying attention to. Ones that probably won't be going back to the NHL when the lockout ends. Maybe they should, though. I'm going to start up a series of a few posts talking about players in the KHL you should be paying attention to.
I'd like to introduce you to Kirill Petrov.
Kirill Andreyevich Petrov. Born April 13, 1990. Plays for his hometown team, Ak Bars. He's a forward, wears #90. Can play on either wing.
If you're an Islanders fan, you probably know who Kirill Petrov is. Your team selected him in the third round (73rd overall) in the 2008 draft. And you're probably aware why he dropped so low, after being the #2 ranked European player by central scouting that season. Contracts, son. He had a four year deal in place with Ak Bars when he was drafted. The Islanders brought him to rookie camp in 2010, but he returned to Russia to play most of the following season with Yugra after being traded. He's since returned to Ak Bars on another three year deal, bringing up the question of when and/or if he'll ever play on Long Island. He'd be available again for the '14-'15 season, and at that point I would guess it's dependant on what the Isles are willing to give him, and what entry-level deals under the new CBA will allow.
On an international level, he's represented Russia's youth teams, playing twice in the World Under 18 championships, and twice in the World Juniors. His 2008 WJC-18 was outstanding. He scored 5 goals, and was named to the tournament's all-star team. The year before, Russia won the tournament, but he only managed three assists. At the World Juniors, Petrov shined in 2010, racking up 4 goals and 6 assists. He's also played 3 games for the senior Russian squad, during this past summer's annual Euro Hockey Tour.
So why should you give a crap about him? Do you like power forwards? Petrov fits the mold perfectly, at 6'2" and 215 pounds. But he's not all size. He's been praised for his skating ability, and has a decent amount of speed for a big man. He's also got above-average stickhandling skills. Agile? Oh yeah.
He hasn't quite had that breakout season yet, but it's not too far away. He had 29 points last season, a big increase over the previous season in Yugra. This is a guy with a ton of upside, and definitely one to pay attention to if you're watching the KHL.