Last June to the delight of Islanders fans, GM Garth Snow took a flier on a extremely talented but immature winger Kirill Kabanov. Kabanov showed in the days following the draft that he was a very charismatic and lovable kid. He was a joy to interview, he took fellow Russian Kirill Petrov (who doesn’t speak much English) around the interview circuit and acted as a translator and even worked out with him on the ice. He spent the summer on Long Island shacking up former Islander defenseman Eric Carins. Heading into camp, Kabanov had the Islanders and their fans just a little giddy about his potential. Then came training camp…
Kabanov was late to the first day of camp (the day you take your physical) and it was all downhill from there. Kabanov was late a second time, and just scooted in at the last second on a few other occasions. As GM Garth Snow explained during a pre-season interview, “If he comes late, he ruins that day of camp, and probably the next day as well since he’s probably hasn’t had breakfast or proper fluids and after his skating punishment for being late, he’ll be tired”. Kabanov, instead of getting valuable ice time during pre-season games, sat for all but one game and received limited ice time during that affair. He was reassigned to back to the QMJHL without a contract.
After being traded early in the season by Moncton to the Lewiston MAINEiacs, Kabanov finally may have figured out that it’s not all about him on the ice. His biggest problem to that point was that on the ice, the talk of being the “next Ovechkin” had sunk in a little too much and he started to believe that he was too good to back check, and do all the other necessary things that good hockey players do. After his trade to Lewiston, he seems to have turned a corner. Kabanov, in 37 games had 28 points and finished with a +8 rating (remember this is a guy who didn’t have much of a camp and missed time early in the season with a “personal matter”). Since the playoffs have started, Kabanov has really picked up his game. In 11 playoff games, Kabanov has 16 points and is a +7. In their 2nd round series against Montreal, Kabanov had a point in each game including 2 in the clincher. On the Lewiston website, there is a poll asking fans which feat was most impressive during the Montreal series, 23% (the most) chose the fact that Kabanov had a point in each of the 6 games.
Not only has Kabanov’s play on the ice improved, he was also nominated by the QMJHL for their Humanitarian Award. Kabanov, even when injured, would greet fans coming into the arena before the game and would be extremely generous donating his time taking many trips to locals schools and hospitals all season long.
The Islanders have to be a least a little encouraged by the reports they are receiving on Kabanov, it was never a matter of talent, it was just if he could get his head on straight. It seems, for the time being at least, that he’s doing just that.
I’m currently working on my final grades blog for the Islanders this season, I hope to have it finished early next week.
Speaking of the Lewiston MAINEiacs, their next opponent is the Saint John Sea Dogs (top 2011 prospect Jonathan Huberdeau plays for Saint John), starting tonight. If you wish, you can listen to the game through the Lewiston website here… http://www.lewistonhockey.com/
Speaking of Huberdeau, he has been on fire during the Saint John playoff run racking up 21 points in just 9 games. He and fellow top prospect Sean Couturier were named 1st team QMJHL all stars for the 2010-2011 season.
Couturier, was awarded the Michael Bossy Trophy (a sign maybe??) at the annual QMJHL awards for best professional prospect. Couturier is going to be a hell of a hockey player and I don’t expect him to be around long come the NHL draft. His name should be one of the first 6 called.
I have already pre-ordered my ISS 2011 NHL Draft Report and I will receive it sometime in the end of May, until then I’ll be doing my usual research of the top prospects and hope to have a mock draft done by early June.
About the Author: The New York Islanders have been a huge part of my life since I was 7 years old, and during the past 27 years I have experience many ups and downs with this team. The back end of 4 straight Stanley Cups, the Drive for 5, the Easter Epic, trading of my heroes John Tonelli, and Kelly Hrudey. Mike Bossy's early retirement, Pat LaFontaine for Pierre Turgeon, Dale Hunter, David Volek, Ron Hextall, Al Arbour's retirement, Bill Torrey to Florida, Mike Milbury, John Spano, The Milstein's, Hoistgate, the sale to Charles Wang, Draft Day 2000, Alexei Yashin and Michael Peca, Milbury's "reassignement", 40 days of Neil Smith, Ted Nolan, The Lighthouse Project, Kate Murray, Scott Gordon, going from 5 to 7 to 9, Josh Bailey, John Tavares, Calvin deHaan, El Nino, the 2 Kirill's and hopefully.....much, much more. I have been an Islanders blogger for the past 3 years, starting on Myspace, then for IslesNation.com and currently for HockeyIndependent.com, and I have been selected to the 2010-2011 New York Islanders Blog Box. I am an IT Manager for a quite large facility working for a government agency. I am married for 7 years to an incredibly patient woman and am the proud father of a beautiful 1 year old daughter. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: Twitter.com/tonystabile