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Vrbetic, Petrov ones to watch

NORTH BAY, Ont. – Joe Vrbetic and Matvey Petrov of the North Bay Battalion are among 46 Ontario Hockey League players named to the October ‘Players to Watch’ list released Tuesday by the National Hockey League’s central scouting department.

Second-year goaltender Vrbetic, who turned 18 on Saturday, is rated a B prospect, projected as a second- to third-round candidate for the 2021 NHL Draft. Right winger Petrov, 17, has a C rating and is a fourth- to sixth-round candidate identified from leading developmental leagues.

While the OHL’s 2020-21 campaign has yet to start, delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, last season saw Vrbetic post a 4.23 goals-against average, an .881 save percentage, two shutouts and a won-lost-extended record of 14-25-1 in 42 games before the rest of the schedule and playoffs were cancelled.

A six-foot-six, 180-pound Hamilton native, Vrbetic was a second-round choice in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection from the Don Mills Flyers minor midgets.

North Bay selected Russia’s Petrov with the first overall pick June 30 in the Canadian Hockey League Import Draft. He played 21 games last season with the top-level junior Moscow Krylya Sovetov, or Soviet Wings, scoring five goals and adding four assists for nine points. In nine games with the Russian under-17 team, he had four goals and five assists for nine points.

Petrov, who turns 18 on March 12, is a six-foot-one, 163-pound native of Gus-Khrustalny, 230 kilometres east of Moscow.

“It’s always a nice thing to get recognition, and we’re very proud of our two young men,” said Battalion general manager Adam Dennis.

“Given the current climate, Matvey had the opportunity to start the season with the same club he was with last season in Russia’s top junior league. We’ve been able to watch his games online, and our coaches have been in contact by sharing video and getting him used to some of the key hockey terms he’ll need to get used to when over here.

“As proud as we are for the two guys who were recognized, we also feel strongly that, when given the opportunity to play, we’ll have a few other promising young players join this list.”

A total of 30 skaters and one goaltender received grades of A, denoting them as potential first-rounders. Five OHLers among that group included defencemen Daniil Chayka of the Guelph Storm and Brandt Clarke of the Barrie Colts and centres Mason McTavish of the Peterborough Petes and Francesco Pinelli of the Kitchener Rangers.

Players are first-time eligible for the seven-round NHL Draft in the year in which they turn 18, unless they were born Sept. 16 or later, in which case they must wait until the following year.

The San Jose Sharks chose right winger Brandon Coe of the Battalion in the fourth round, 97th overall, of the 2020 NHL Draft conducted in virtual fashion Oct. 6-7.

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