Russian Intrigue: The Anton Klementyev-Kiril Petrov situation

UPDATE Dec. 7: Chris Botta has uncovered a fountain of information on this topic. Namely: Petrov's agent didn't know about the maneuver (but thinks there's a way -- a different way -- for Petrov to be under an Isles contract in 2010). Botta also drops this juicy bit: "Intrepid Klymentyev agent Paul Theofanous - almost certainly a co-producer in this maneuver - has not returned two phone calls." Go there for the full story (well, as much as is available).

Original post below...

The team has not granted the Russian Hockey Federation’s request for Islander defenseman Anton Klementyev (currently playing with the Sound Tigers) to participate in their pre-camp leading up to the World Junior Championships in January.

"We are looking for cooperation regarding the release of Kirill Petrov from his obligation to Kazan of the KHL," Snow said.

>>islanders.nhl.com

Anton Klementyev, a 19-year-old, 5th-round sleeper pick in this past summer's draft, has appeared in 10 games with AHL Bridgeport, amassing zero points, five shots on goal, four PIM, and a minus-5. Kiril Petrov, a well-regarded talent whose Russian "signability issues" dropped him to the 3rd round in the 2008 draft, has not lived up to that hype since then and was even assigned this year to a junior squad by his KHL team Kazan Ak-Bar.

Aside from a common NHL team's rights and separate hometowns far to Moscow's east, their common bond should be a chance to play on this year's Russian World Junior Championships entry. But in a cheeky bit of asset management, Islanders GM Garth Snow is for the moment keeping that from happening.

Give Snow two points for creativity.

It's a curious gambit. Given the state of NHL-KHL relations and the relative stakes of these two, it's hard to see how it would work as hoped.

At the moment it's not clear how much Klementyev wants the chance to play for Russia's junior team. It's also not clear how much (if at all) Petrov wants to break his KHL deal, which reportedly has three more seasons including the current one. Individual motivations in these cases are usually a bit shrouded, anyway. But from Snow's angle, it probably doesn't hurt to raise the issue and gauge the response. (Not surprisingly, Snow is not inclined to say more than the above statement about the issue.)

If Petrov will ever become an NHL player, it will have to be as a dangerous scorer. If that's ever going to happen, the Islanders surely will want a crack at his development before 2012. But would the quite-political KHL care to bend on a pro contract -- even for a demoted player -- just for the sake of having a non-heralded, non-KHL defenseman on their junior team? Surely not without a nice payment, which might offend Uncle Gary's sensibilities.

For the Islanders' handling of Klementyev: Does it make sense to use him as a pawn like this, potentially depriving him of a shot at the whole patriotic rah-rah national team experience? (Alternatively, maybe he's just digging life in Bridgeport so much he'd rather not break away...). But if we're comparing ceilings, certainly a happy Petrov in Islanders blue is a greater prize than a happy Klementyev.

There'll be more to come on this one. With all the screwy intercontinental hockey politics, it just might get fun to watch.

Then again, neither controlling party is exactly known for it's love of freedom of information. In two weeks we might just get some canned statement from either side telling us nothing more than, "We enjoyed our discussions and have reached further understanding, but there is no change to report." ... while the real story might reside in the records of some Swiss bank account.

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