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New York Islanders Top 25 Under 25: At #24, Kirill Kabanov's journey...or descent?

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First-round talent, fourth-round head?

Maybe it's a four-year plan? Kome home, Kirill. Kome home.
Maybe it's a four-year plan? Kome home, Kirill. Kome home.
Harry How

It's long past time to use words like "first-round talent" and "would have been in the mix except for..." about Kirill Kabanov. The only things we still know to be true about the [insert your suggestive Euro-phobe adjective here] 2010 third-round (65 overall) pick is that he still has admirable talent and he still has not convince a pro team to depend on it.

Yes, a hard-luck injury torched his first pro season with Bridgeport in 2012-13, and yes, he can be given a mulligan for not handling his return well. But 2013-14 saw him assigned to ECHL Stockton (for undisclosed but quite probably disciplinary reasons) and eventually loaned to MoDo in Sweden.

He produced some in Sweden (six goals and three assists in 14 games, in the proverbial "playing against men" setting), but nothing like what would make you say, "Get that 21- (soon to be 22-) year-old over here ASAP!"

And that is why he has fallen down many of our ballots for the Top 25 New York Islanders 25, and fallen completely off two of them:

CIL Keith Mike B. Mark Mike L. Chris Dom
- 22 23 24 - 18 20

At some point, a team decides a player with Robert Nilsson talent also has a Robert Nilsson head. You hope the loveable Kirill is not headed that way, but it's up to him to change minds. (And we say all of this with what remains mostly circumstantial evidence; we don't know what's transpired off the ice, but our indirect telescopes are picking up alarming waves.)

Rationales and such follow, where you can feel our collective angst, like having to give up on a puppy...

Keith:

I'm probably hanging on to Kirill hope too long here, but he still has a skill set that is enticing if he puts it together. There should be room at Bridgeport for him to make a return after some success in the SEL.

Mike B.:

I feel like he's been lapped by other guys and the Isles think of him as a lesser Rob Schremp Hockey, one they don't have to put up with now that the team is much deeper than it was then. I hope he gets a shot to crack this roster, though. I'd like to see what he can do on a big stage - I think his personality is such that, if the talent's there, the brighter lights will make it shine more.

Chris:

I would think maturity is still an issue with Kabanov, but it's a good sign that Kirill didn't mope after being demoted to Stockton.  10-6-16 in 21 combined games between the ECHL and SEL, the talent is still there.  Hopefully he gets a chance to show it off full-time in the AHL this upcoming season.

CanadianIslesLifer, who left him out of the top 25:

This is a kid who appears to have most of the tools, but no toolbox. You hope he can mature and get it together, because the potential to be a top-6, two-way playmaking winger who could score 15 goals per year is there. Kabanov is fast, has the height to bulk up with muscle, is a magician with the puck on his stick though not much of a goal scorer.

However, sad reality is talent alone will not get you to the show and keep you there. The NHL history books are littered with high-end talented prospects who busted for similar reasons. As I see it, the success or failure of Kabanov is all on Kabanov and Kabanov alone at this point.

And finally Mark, who is on a roll with these:

I blame Eric Cairns.

The Top 25U25, everybody! It's a microcosm of all the highs and lows of the Islanders fan experience.