Making a Case for Kirill Kabanov

Once upon a time, way back in June of 2009, there was a boy who everybody loved. His name was Kirill Kabanov. People liked to tell him that he was the next Ovechkin, and that he would be a top ten (possibly top three) pick in the 2010 NHL Draft. He was met with naysayers who were convinced he wanted to play in the KHL, he proved them wrong by starting the season with Moncton. That was the start of a very interesting timeline:

  1. Kirill broke his contract in Russia to come to Moncton, he faced disqualification by the IIHF
  2. Kabanov broke his wrist that caused him to miss the World Juniors, and get bumped from his spot in the Wildcats lineup (becoming a healthy scratch on a number of ocassions)
  3. Moncton releases him to play in the World Under-18s (despite being in the QMJHL playoffs). Russia proceeds to release him from that squad for playing like an individual instead of a team player.
  4. In an attempt to re-affirm his desire to play in the NHL, Kabanov basically spits on the KHL, National Team, and Russia in general.
  5. J.P. Barry today dropped Kabanov as a client. Making Kabanov without Representation, without a Team, and without a Country. He was currently sitting in the 30's for draft rankings, but this will likely cause him to plummet even further.

So why should The Leafs want him? Basically for the guy he was thought to be a year ago, and the hope that he can find his way back to that. I'm not sure of the logistics, and whether he'd be eligible for the AHL next season (similar to Filatov's situation), but if he was he would have a chance to receive decent ice time playing against older players, and learn the game the best way.

There are the other issues as well, besides game play, that are huge red flags. There is his inability to stick with a team, there is his a potentially meddling father, (as per Dmitry Chesnokov) and the fact that he has probably alienated most of the Russians in the league. You'd have to think that time will heal all wounds as this is just a young kid shooting his mouth off, and the NHL has survived douchebag fathers before (Eric Lindros, and Patrick O'Sullivans fathers come to mind), but Kabanov is going to have to show respect for the process, and if he needs to do another year in Junior, no team is going to want him if he can't obey and respect his coaches decisions.

I personally do not think he will fall this far, and I have a hard time believing that there aren't teams that would chance him in the second round (If the Bruins have all 4 of their picks in the top 60 using one of them on him won't hurt them too badly.) I would trade up to pick him, or be heart broken if he's not there, but feel he should be taken if he's on the board. There are some arguments that can be made for him falling that low in the draft. Some of the other teams desperate for a scoring forward have been burnt by Russians before (Radulov for Nashville), and could take a pass. Other teams aren't going to want to rock the boat with their Russian Nationals so they will likely take a pass as well (Washington, Pittsburgh, Detroit, any team trying to lure Kovalchuk). The main factor is the draft seems to be deep with defensemen, and that could be the priority for a lot of teams in the second round.

I have my doubts that Burke would take Kabanov given his questionable character, but I hope that Kabanov's skill is too much for him to pass up. At the very least, Kirill will make an interesting story on Day Two of the Draft.


I'm off to Edmonton for the next couple of days, so this is likely my last post until the weekend. I'm assuming the Leafs will be active in the news for this reason alone.

1 comment:

Curt S said...

I'd take him. Most of the time in the second round you're getting fringe NHL talent anyway -- why not take a shot at a guy that could be a top six forward? We have all the role-players we need.