Oct 13, 2011

Prospects: Kabanov Unhappy with North America/NHL?

Journalist Dmitry Chesnokov reported that Islanders prospect Kirill Kabanov, in an interview with Sports.ru, spoke on his current situation with Blainville-Boisbriand of the QMJHL. The team has two international players on their roster already, and due to QMJHL stipulations, must either sit out or play in Europe. Kabanov expressed his frustration, although has recently refuted his statements via social media.

AT: This is such a shame. After developing such a solid chemistry with his linemates on Lewiston last year, Kabanov had to suffer one heartbreak when his team was dissolved and he was drafted to Blainville-Boisbriand (then the Montreal Juniors) in a special draft. Now, he's unable to even play hockey, and it's up to the Islanders and Kabanov to figure out a situation as to where he can play. Right now, it's looking like the most likely situation for Kabanov would be playing for a team in the Swedish Elite League or going back to the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia. Kabanov can technically still play in the QMJHL if Viktor Hertzberg, another international player playing with the Armada, leaves the team. That does seem likely seeing as how he's had a lot of injuries and may not even be able to continue playing hockey, but as of right now everything is still up in the air.

That leaves the two most likely options: He can be loaned out to either the SEL or the KHL. Neither league is known for giving young prospects much playing time, and Kabanov, even with his talent, will be no exception. It would be wise to loan him out to a team like Frolunda (SEL) or Ak Bars (KHL) so he can play with other Isles prospects Johan Sundstrom and Kirill Petrov, respectively. He'll be playing 4th line minutes, but he'll be playing, and that's the most important thing right now. Better to play 5 minutes a game than to dwell on Long Island losing over a year of development time.

As for Kabanov's comments, I wouldn't be too concerned about them. Kabanov has come a long way since his days of immaturity as a 16 and 17 year old teenager, and has shown massive progress in his desire to be a better person and player. He is clearly upset that he's not playing right now and at the instability in his life, and as a fellow 19 year old I can understand how such major instability at an age like this can cause an incredible amount of stress. He has some extra kinks to work out in his career, but I have faith that he'll be able to. It will only create an even better story for when he develops into the player we know he can be.

CH: I do agree that Kabanov's comments were taken out of context and that there was a translation error in talking about his happiness in North America. After looking fully into this situation, I expect Kabanov to end up in Sweden, though it's still too early to say. After all of the disparaging remarks he made towards the KHL, it seems unlikely that he will be able to go back there even if he currently has a standing offer. Obviously, Kabanov has a lot of talent so getting him a place to play is the first priority. The rest will all take care of itself as he will most likely be in Bridgeport to start next season.

The Isles made the correct decision in not keeping him in the NHL, as he is not ready to play at that level. At 19 years old, Bridgeport unfortunately is not an option due to the NHL/CHL agreement. While it would be nice to make an exception in this rare case, there is no loophole in the rule regarding a team's overabundance of European players. So that leaves a teenager with no place to play as we works on his fourth team in the last three seasons. Some of that is his fault, but the poor kid can't catch a break. All the Isles can do is hope that this is not a wasted year for Kabanov.

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