logo

Young Stars The Day After 2.0: Welcome to the Matvei Petrov show

alt
Bruce Curlock
2 months ago
Matvei Petrov has scored 40 goals in the OHL. He was third in assists in the OHL last year with 66. He finished in the top ten of scoring in the hardest junior league in the world.
However, in his two years at the Young Stars Classic, Matvei Petrov has found out that the next level is harder. Last year at this tournament, he looked intimidated and he played on the outside a lot and didn’t relish the physical aspects of the game. I expected this year to be different as one year can make quite a difference in a prospect’s development. So when game one of the tournament went by and Petrov was relatively quiet, I had some modest concerns.
Then came game two and all the parts of the game that make Petrov came to shine. If Petrov could bottle this game, we might see the start of something very good.

What Did I See?

Matvei Petrov

No question that the headlines post-game will be Petrov’s 1-1-2 in this game. He’s a point producer and he needs to be one to make the NHL. Last night he gave a great show of what he can do offensively against tough competition. His assist in this game came off his lethal shot that he loves to use from the left flank. I’ll let you decide, but I am 50/50 this was a shot-pass attempt. Regardless of what his intention was, it was patented Petrov. The defenseman gave him too much space. Petrov stepped into it and let his quick release go.

Failed to load video.

His goal in this game was on the powerplay. Again, if Petrov scores goals as a professional, you will see a lot of highlights that look a lot like this one. He’s set up well with his body directed to the net. Xavier Bourgault sends a sweet little backhand saucer pass right onto his stick and the puck is in the net. I wonder a lot about this pair on the powerplay in Bakersfield. Bourgault sitting in the bumper making great little passes to Petrov for one-timers.

Failed to load video.

This was all great, but I want to focus on some other plays that were even more encouraging for me. Petrov has a big frame and he skates well. He also has great puck skills. I think too often he lets the opposition off the hook by not providing constant pressure. Tonight, we saw what can happen when Petrov does keep the pressure on. Look at this little play off a faceoff loss. Petrov skates hard into the lane and uses a great stick play to create a solid scoring chance out of nothing. He can do that a lot and he should because it’s a skillset that can make a difference for him at 5v5.

Failed to load video.

Here is another clip that may seem innocuous, but I think it is what can make Petrov’s professional career something quite good. Off the defensive zone faceoff late in a tie game, Petrov beats his check to the inside and races to mark the defenseman who has the puck. Petrov causes the attacker to chip the puck instead of taking a shot. Petrov then turns and uses his stick to force a turnover leading to the Oilers racing up ice for a chance.

Failed to load video.

This was the best Petrov has ever played in this tournament. If he can consistently produce this type of effort at 5v5, there will be a player whom coaches can trust.

Beau Akey

Akey had another strong game tonight for the Oilers. His puck patience and passing were on display all night yet again. Look at this tremendous little back pass while under pressure at the blue line.

Failed to load video.

Akey’s understanding of time and space and then the ability to execute plays to advance the puck is quite impressive at his age. Here is another really simple one that leads to a positive play for the Oilers. Akey is going back on the puck. Watch him scan back up the ice. He sees the Flames change and then launches a long-range pass right on the tape to start an offensive zone attack.

Failed to load video.

Finally, I saw another encouraging part of Akey’s game tonight. Akey is not a big-body defenseman. I do wonder about his ability to play physical at the next level although he has time to develop strength. However, in this very physical game, Akey held his own and even displayed some grease as well. Here is a great closeout by Akey where he gets into the hips and hands of the opposition player and then takes him through the wall to separate the player from the puck.

Failed to load video.

It was interesting to see Akey playing against the Calgary Flames who drafted another defender I was quite high on in Etienne Morin. Akey was clearly more impactful in this game in all three zones. Of course, it is a small sample size, but it’s encouraging that Akey’s play is trending up from his draft position.

Xavier Bourgault

I really expected Bourgault to be more impactful in this tournament than he has to date. However, he was much better in this game. Now he is still not scoring much with only one assist in the first two games, but there is definitely some improvement. Bourgault displayed his usual high-octane skill in the offensive zone. Here is a great example of his quick hands and patience in close quarters.

Failed to load video.

He also made a delightful little back pass on the Petrov goal.

Failed to load video.

The other part of his game I want to point out is Bourgault’s comfort in going into dangerous spaces. Bourgault is not a shrinking violet. He will go to tough spots with the puck. Watch this attack to the middle where Bourgault clearly knows he’s going to get doinked.

Failed to load video.

That’s a wrap on 2.0 of the Young Guns Classic. As always, your feedback is welcome here or on the X to @bcurlock.

Check out these posts...