The Edmonton Oilers might have a diamond in the rough with prospect Matvey Petrov. He was selected first overall in the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Import Draft by the North Bay Battalion in 2020 and fortunately fell to the Oilers in the sixth round in the 2021 NHL Draft. Since then, his stock has risen.
The Moscow, Russia native had a big 2021-22 campaign in his first season in North America with the Battalion, where he recorded 40 goals and 50 assists in 63 games. Last season’s Battalion point leader, Brandon Coe, moved on to the American Hockey League (AHL), and there was added pressure for Petrov to produce this season as the team’s offensive catalyst and he hasn’t disappointed.
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Petrov has tallied 23 goals and 52 assists in 49 games so far, and not only is he leading North Bay in points, but he’s challenging for the points lead in the entire Ontario Hockey League (OHL), where he’s currently in second place. Back in September, I wrote a piece on Petrov and said that he could catch the attention of the hockey world if he followed up his rookie season with a big sophomore campaign. That said, the sniper is starting to gain recognition, so much so that the Daily Faceoff’s Steven Ellis recently labelled the Oilers’ prospect as one of the OHL’s most dangerous players.
Petrov is climbing the Oilers’ prospect ranks and is projected to be a sixth-round steal, but at the same time, it begs the question if Edmonton should take advantage of his rise as one of the OHL’s best point producers and use him as a trade chip at the trade deadline.
The Highly Skilled Petrov Set a Battalion Franchise Record
Petrov most recently became the highest-scoring import in Battalion franchise history — he recorded three assists on Jan. 29 finishing the night with 155 career points, passing Lukas Havel’s 20-year record of 153 points. North Bay’s head coach Ryan Oulahen spoke highly of the Russian sniper recently, saying, “He’s such an important piece for our leadership group and somebody that just has an off-the-charts skill set, and brain and hockey IQ.”
Diving into the unique aspects of his game, at 6-foot-2, and 181 pounds, Petrov is a right-handed shot, who plays left wing and is best known for his shooting ability and willingness to unleash it. He’s a pure sniper who loves to set up for a one-timer on the power play with a lightning-quick release (from “If this late-round draft steal pans out, Edmonton Oilers can thank Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle”, Edmonton Journal, 09/20/21).
The Russian winger’s skillset is unquestioned and Allan Mitchell of The Athletic compared him to the Seattle Kraken’s Andre Burakovsky due to their similar first seasons in the OHL, where Petrov tallied 1.44 points-per-game (P/G) to that of Burakovsky’s 1.53 P/G when he played with the Erie Otters in 2014 (From “Lowetide: the Legend of Oilers Prospect Matvei Petrov Continues to Grow”, the Athletic, 03/26/22). The potential is high for the former sixth-round draft pick, and as The Hockey Writers Brian Swane previously mentioned back in 2021, the Oilers’ prospect could be the steal of the entire 2021 NHL Draft.
Oilers Could Use Petrov’s Rising Value in a Trade for Lafferty
The OHL is regarded as one of the top developmental leagues in the world and there have been some significant players in past years, like Jason Robertson (2018-19), Alex DeBrincat (2016-17), and Dylan Strome (2014-15) who have led the league in points, and the fact that Petrov is challenging for that title is bound to raise some eyebrows. He has the raw tools to potentially provide secondary scoring in Oil Country one day, but I can’t help but think if he’s piqued the interest of general managers around the NHL.
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Oilers’ GM Ken Holland has checked in on many players around the league and the million-dollar question is what significant deal, if any, is he going to pull off before, or at the trade deadline? If he’s looking for a bigger trade involving Arizona Coyotes’ defenceman Jakob Chychrun, then the return will be a combination of a couple of Oilers’ first-round picks, and/or former first-rounder Xavier Bourgault going the other way as well. If Holland goes that route and gives up the right-shot Bourgault, then Petrov (who is also a right-shot and has a comparable skillset) should remain in the Oilers’ pipeline to hopefully be a depth scorer in the future.
However, it’s also been reported that the Oilers have had scouts watching Columbus Blue Jackets games and the obvious player they’re scouting is defenceman Vladislav Gavrikov. Now, the expected ask for him is a first-round draft pick, (and a $3 million player would be included to make the money work) and if Holland were to pull the trigger to acquire him, without parting with Bourgault, then Petrov could be in play for other depth pieces.
This brings us to Chicago Blackhawks’ forward Sam Lafferty. Oilers’ colour commentator Bob Stauffer is very high on this player and has been very adamant as of late that Edmonton should (and could) be after him. Lafferty has strong penalty-killing skills and elite skating ability. Moreover, he’s scored three shorthanded goals and provides flexibility as a winger and centerman and has won 53.6 percent of his faceoffs. He checks many boxes for the Oilers and would instantly make their bottom six better. He also has an attractive $1.15 million cap hit, with another year on his contract. Yet, it’s rumoured there are many teams interested in his services, like the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning. As such, there will be a bidding war and early signs show that the request is a second-round draft pick and potentially more.
As much of a solid prospect Petrov is, the Oilers are in win-now mode, and Lafferty helps them immediately in a quest for a Cup. The question I have is, if Edmonton got into a bidding war for Lafferty and Chicago wanted a promising prospect in return, would a mid-round draft pick, and this season’s potential OHL leading scorer, Petrov, be enough to move the needle? If so, GM Holland should take advantage of this classic “buy low, sell high” scenario and move a player he found in the sixth round, for a player that can help them make a deep playoff push.
Should the Oilers consider moving Petrov for immediate help? Have your say in the comments below!