This is an email in response to some questions I addressed to Justin. I would like to thank him again for taking the time. He has kindly offered to send me a link to Kirill's player page once he completes it and I will post it in a fanshot when he does.
Mostly very positive. You will note he is concerned about Kirill's reluctance to take physical punishment and does not think he will be NHL-ready next year. Justin does point encouragingly to David Perron's experience with the MAINEiacs. It is also noteworthy that he has had this level of success on the fourth line.
Of course, Kirill will never be a tough gritty type and will always be a bit tempermental. It will be judgement call as to whether at any point he has progressed as far as he is likely to or at least enough to be successful in the NHL. In that regard, having a former Islander scout as assistant GM will be very helpful.
Kirill Kabanov appears to be fitting in well. He is playing fourth line minutes, basically to get him used to the system, and also because, quite frankly, he's coming into a crowded lineup that has a couple of top lines with solid chemistry already.
He's done very well since arriving, and his overall game cannot be measured in points alone. He does have 3 G, 4A for 7 points, but one of the bigger notes is that he's a plus-6 playing alongside different teammates nearly every game, including 16-year-old rookie Christophe Lalonde.
His talents are quite obvious, but what he lacks, even at the level he's at now, is a physical game. Now, the same could be said for David Perron when he played here in Lewiston a few years back, and look where he's at with the Blues. But he really doesn't like to be hit, and that may be one point of emphasis in future coaching.
Having the Schurmans around will help Kirill, if only for the babysitting factor, honestly. He, as you mentioned, has a history, but so far, none of that has factored in here.
If you were hoping that Kabanov might crack the Isles' lineup next season, I don't think that will happen. I could be wrong, and for the kid's sake, I hope I am. But straight maturity-wise, I think he'll need a couple.
As far as fitting in, there doesn't seem to be a problem. The Maineiacs' locker room is very strong right now.
And in term of attendance, that matters a lot less to these kids in junior hockey than you might think. The crowds here are smaller across the league (11 teams less than 3,000/night, 13 teams less than 3,100 and Lewiston is better than 5 other teams right now), and while bigger and louder crowds help, those things matter more to guys like Just and their wallets than to the players.