Kirill Petrov's favorite place so far in training camp? Simple. On the ice. The rest has been a challenge for the 25-year-old NHL rookie, who has made a strong impression in his push for a roster spot and a spot in the opening-night lineup.
He hasn't had time to be a Russian tourist in New York yet, unless you count a few rides on the LIRR to Brooklyn.
"There is time for practice, then back to the hotel, that's it," Petrov said through an interpreter on Thursday, the first time he had a chance to answer questions from a big media group.
Petrov arrived on Long Island four weeks ago with only his gear, his clothes and barely a single word of English in his vocabulary. The 2008 third-round pick had spent nine years playing professionally in his hometown of Kazan. A falling out with his coach last season and a contract dispute led him to give the NHL and the Islanders a shot, but with no guarantees.
His one-year deal pays him $875,000 in the NHL, less than he made in the KHL -- and that KHL dough was tax-free. If the Islanders send him to Bridgeport, which they can do without having him pass through waivers, he'll make $65,000. That might not be enough to entice Petrov to stay in North America for long.
His size -- 6-3, 232 pounds -- and his willingness to use his big body have drawn positive notice from the coaching staff.
"He's starting to understand the systems and the way that we want to play," Jack Capuano said. "Probably a little different than what he's used to playing. I've been impressed up until this point."
The real question is where Petrov fits. Since Monday's preseason game, in which Petrov scored in a 3-1 loss to the Capitals, the big winger has skated on what's been a fifth forward line with Steve Bernier and 18-year-old Mathew Barzal. That likely means Petrov won't be in the lineup when the Islanders host the Blackhawks in Friday night's season opener.
But it also means that any underperforming Isles wingers are on notice if they start slowly.
Notes & quotes: D Thomas Hickey (upper body) was placed on injured reserve. He'll miss at least the first two weeks of the regular season.