Oleg Petrov

Remember this guy? It's Oleg Petrov, the first Russian trained player to play for the Montreal Canadiens.

Not that Petrov was the highest touted Russian player to graduate out of the old Soviet training of hockey. The Canadiens drafted Oleg 127th overall in the 1991 Entry Draft. He was playing with the famous CSKA Moscow team at the time, but he was far from a known player on this side of the Atlantic.

Petrov came over to North American in 1992, but the undersized winger did not stick with the Canadiens in his first four seasons. He was up and down between Montreal and the minor leagues. By 1996 he headed back overseas, to play in Switzerland (winning two scoring titles) and presumably never be heard from again.

But Oleg did come back, and he became a bit of a fan favorite in Montreal. In 2000 he returned and posted a career high 30 assists and 47 points. The following year he scored 24 goals. He developed really good chemistry with team captain and crowd favourite Saku Koivu. The tiny duo excited the Montreal faithful with their play.

Petrov got the fans out of their seats when he found a little bit of room in the neutral zone to start gaining some speed. He was a tricky skater with superb agility and quickness. But what really won him over in Montreal was his gritty and tireless work ethic. Being so small he did not win every battle for the loose pucks, but he gave it everything he had.

Petrov's offense dried up in what proved to be his final NHL season, 2002-03. At the trading deadline he was moved to Nashville for the final 17 games of his NHL career.

Petrov totalled 382 career NHL games, scoring 72 goals and 115 assists for 187 points. His hockey career was far from over though. He returned to Switzerland for several more seasons, and then joined Ak Bars Kazan of the KHL in 2007 for two final seasons.


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