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Top 25 Islanders Under 25: #11 Kirill Kabanov, World Traveler

Part B of the looming Natural Born Kirills.
Part B of the looming Natural Born Kirills.

From Moscow to Moncton to Lewiston to Russia-but-not to Sweden-but-not to Shawinigan. Probably Bridgeport before it all comes to a stop on Long Island, too. If Kirill Kabanov becomes a NHL regular, it will have been one heck of a ride.

Kirill B is one talented kid and also a lightning rod for any hint of "character" or other unordered behavior. He's an easy mark for any Russian media angling for mileage or comeuppance (or extra readers, really) from his young anti-KHL sentiments. He's easily misunderstood because he has tattoos and Ray Ferraro thinks a #17 tattoo is presumptuous. (I mean why would a Russian winger tattoo #17 on himself when he hasn't even made the tea--oh-wait.)

In August Hockey Prospectus ranked him as the Islanders' 2nd best prospect [LHH discussion here], and in a pre-training camp vote we had him as their 11th best hockey player under age 25.

You can see from our six-member voting panel, it wasn't quite unanimous though:

How We Voted

Top 25 Under 25 mikb M11 CIL Dom KQ Web/Mark
Kirill Kabanov
8 8 17 8 9 19

For this first edition, we polled LHH authors Keith, WebBard (Mark D), mikb, myself, and two particularly prospect-focused LHH regulars, CanadianIslesLifer and MatthewM11. We wanted enough to get a decent number of voters but not so much that we make the first run unwieldy. It is absolutely unscientific but with varied enough votes to get us thinking.

The enticing thing for many about Kabanov are his speed, hands, and in recent interviews -- an interest in learning pro-level defensive responsibilities. His 8-12-20 performance in 15 playoff games last spring for the now-defunct Lewiston NOWHEREiacs didn't hurt.

The non-enticing parts for his critics are the light frame, tendency to pass-first-pass-first-pass-first, and the lingering "character" questions that seem to fade more and more with each cool story about the kid. Signed to an ELC by the Islanders this summer, hopefully news of his recent trade to Shawinigan in the QMJHL means he has a great place to shine in his final developmental year before turning pro full-time.

We took these votes before training camp just to get a cross-section of opinions about the Islanders' young talent, amateur and pro; but also to set a baseline for the next poll. You get the feeling Kabanov is going to be a riser when we do this again.

If he hits his potential, it's going to be one of those crazy draft steals that are pivotal in any rebuilding team's resurrection. Looking at the Islanders depth chart, if he could play Right Wing that'd be really nice, too.


Previous Posts in This Top 25 Islanders Under 25 Series

The Top 25 under 25 is an idea conceived (I think) by Oilers blog Copper & Blue and copied elsewhere, incorporated here by popular demand. We cut it off at players who were under 25 going into this season, so Andrew MacDonald, having just turned 25 this month, barely misses eligibility.