Call it the seven-year itch.
Seven years after the New York Islanders drafted Russian winger Kirill Petrov in the third round (73rd) of the 2008 NHL draft, he has signed an entry level contract with the club.
The news reported earlier this month was officially announced by the Isles today at the start of the free agency period.
As a "defected" player under the CBA (i.e. unsigned draft pick playing in a league with no NHL transfer agreement), Petrov was still Islanders property. That's also why his first NHL contract at age 25 is circumscribed to be a one-year, reported $925,000 deal in the entry level system. But his signing impacts the Isles in free agency, as bringing him in is practically like signing a UFA depth forward with middle-six upside.
If things go well, he'll be able to negotiate a raise next year. For now, the Islanders have added a pro-ready winger with good size, hockey intelligence, and speed to potentially make a real impact. His versatility should be very useful, and if there are language barriers then Nikolay Kulemin and Mikhail Grabovski should help.
Petrov isn't a prolific scorer, but he has consistently put up over half a point per game in the KHL for Ak-Bars Kazan, where he also played his junior hockey. If you're looking at his 2014-15 stats and feeling underwhelmed, know that his role was reduced last season, something that inadvertently helped him out the door and on his way to New York.
The thinking back then remains so now, reflected in this writeup at Hockey's Future:
Petrov has size, speed and skill. He is hard to knock off the puck and can deliver an impressive physical presence, if properly motivated. In regards to his speed, Petrov is a very strong skater with impressive quickness. He is a capable puck handler and capable of making the most with very little room. Beyond his soft touch, Petrov also sees the ice well, but does need to further step up his game to make quick and reliable decisions. Even his errant passes tend to generate from some good ideas, but they are dangerous for his team and can at times cause costly turnovers. Another significant development area for Petrov is his defensive play. Overall, Petrov offers an impressive and tempting package of physical presence, skating ability and soft hands but needs to further improve his defensive play and his decision making.
Petrov definitely dropped during his draft year because of fears that he would never sign or come over from Russia. With plenty of extra picks in 2008, the Islanders took that risk with an eye to the long-term.
Now, as they move for their first season in Brooklyn, the risk might just finally pay off.