Following their 6-2 preseason-ending loss in Washington on Sunday night, the Islanders made a number of cuts, settling closer to a final roster for Tuesday's deadline.
Kirill Petrov, who had impressed coaches and observers during the exhibition season with strong, physical play, will be heading to Bridgeport of the AHL along with Kevin Czuczman, Scott Mayfield and Adam Pelech, who were called up this morning for the game against the Capitals.
Also leaving the big club will be 2015 pick Mathew Barzal, who was the last first rounder standing after the previous rounds of the cuts and looked to be a candidate for at least the nine game trial allowed under the CHL-NHL agreement. Instead, Barzal will return to the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL.
The news comes per Arthur Staple of Newsday.
Impressive as they were, neither player had a guaranteed spot with most of the positions already set well before camp even began. The decisions mean that the Islanders are going to be starting the season with a more veteran line-up, probably with free agent signee Steve Bernier as the extra forward.
For Barzal, being cut means the next time we see him will be at next year's rookie camp. Players returned to juniors can't be recalled during the season barring some pretty extraordinary emergency circumstances. Barzal played a shifty, spirited game on Sunday, and has shown the hands and instincts that made him a high pick in the first place.
#Isles are sending No. 16 overall pick Mathew Barzal back to WHL Seattle. He had an impressive camp. Tons of talent.— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) October 5, 2015
Petrov also was competing in his first camp in the NHL, but his path was a more complicated one than Barzal's. Drafted in the third round in 2008, Petrov finally made his way to North America after seven years in the KHL. As Dom wrote a few weeks ago, neither the team nor the player waited that long just to have him ride the buses in the minors, so Petrov could be the first call-up in case of the inevitable injury to a forward.
The Islanders didn't make any significant signings in the offseason under the belief that the roster they had last season was good enough to win this season. Cutting Petrov and Barzal (and to certain extents Mayfield and Michael Dal Colle) after camp is more of an indication of faith in the current players and establishing of a organizational hierarchy.
The days of rushing prospects from juniors are over, and the team and players will ultimately be better for it. Meanwhile Petrov gets to wait for his shot like Ryan Strome, Anders Lee and Brock Nelson before him.
Chances are, he'll get it before long.