The Kurious Kase of Kirill Kabanov

A quick check of the Hockey’s Future page for the New York Islanders will give you a quick, at a glance strengths and weaknesses for the Islanders. Not surprising, the first strength listed is depth and diversity of the defensive prospects. Conversely, the first weakness listed is depth on the wings.

That begs the question: why is Kirill Kabanov playing the East Coast Hockey League for the Stockton Thunder instead of the American Hockey League’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers? After all, he played exclusively there last season.

Kabanov played two games for the Sound Tigers scoring one goal. Then he was sent down to the Thunder. Coincidentally (or not), the 6’3” winger was late to a team meeting shortly before being sent to Stockton. Newsday’s Arthur Staple tweeted at the time that he was placed on the Thunder to get more minutes rather than as a demotion. (Photo credit: islanders.nhl.com)

Either way, it is rather curious. Last season, during the playoffs, Kabanov was one of the prospects on the Sound Tigers who was brought over to be in the press box and to presumably learn what a NHL team experiences during a playoff run.

This is the kind of thing a team does when a kid is part of their plans for the future.

The kid may still be on the Isles radar for the future. Don’t forget, he’s a talented winger with sick hands and tons of energy. He scored 106 points in 111 games in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

His one season in Bridgeport was marred by an ugly cut on his arm that cause him to miss almost half of the season.

Kabanov, who is on the second year of his entry level contract was drafted in the third round of the 2010 NHL entry draft. The selection was one of those high risk/high reward picks.

There were grumblings when he was drafted of attitude concerns. He played for three different teams in the QMJHL and was scratched for a round of playoffs while on the Moncton Wildcats roster. He had also been suspended by a Russian club for not signing a contract before he began his North American career.

These things, and some injury history, led to his fall to the third round to begin with.

The energetic youngster, once drafted, got into a smattering of trouble shortly after being selected by some off the wall comments he made.

He has been a good soldier, for the most part, since then. And, if his numbers so far in Stockton are any indication -he has 11 points in ten games- he’s taking the trip out west well.

Hopefully, Kabanov sees this trip to Stockton as positive for his career, becomes the big fish in a little pond, and forces the Isles’ hand to promote him.

 

-Donovan Brooks

 

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