Kirill Kabanov Becomes Low-Risk Steal For the Islanders
Then the New York Islanders drafted the controversial Russian right wing. Kabanov could not stop smiling, and the Islanders had themselves a top-10 talent at pick 65. Low-risk, high-reward. No matter what becomes of Kabanov, the Islanders cannot go wrong.
The kid did not look relieved to see the end of his plight. He was exhilarated. The biggest story of Day 2 of the draft, Kabanov entertained a large crowd of reporters.
"I want to show that I'm a first round player," said Kabanov, sounding not surprised that he fell to the third. "I want to make the NHL as soon as I can."
The reasons for Kabanov's plunge in the draft rankings over the last year are widespread. Some have become the stuff of legend. He said he got a kick out of the one on FanHouse about him getting a lot of tattoos ("I only have a few.") Some are true. It doesn't look good when your junior team, the Moncton Wildcats of the Quebec League, willingly lets you go to play for the Russian national team. And then Russia cuts you. There are reasons 29 teams passed on him.
After his draft selection, Kabanov acknowledged that players can "get a bad reputation." He went to the lengths of looking into the video cameras on Saturday morning and giving a pledge to Islanders fans to show he is a good person and dedicated hockey player.
The Islanders will put out the welcome mat.
"We'll start with a new slate," said general manager Garth Snow, who added that his team will establish ground rules for Kabanov to follow. Snow was willing to forget the mistakes of a teenager. "I wasn't a saint growing up," he said. "You can't question his talent level. All things considered, he's a first round pick."
As he did at the Draft Combine, Kabanov offered to hand out pages of his passport to reporters to prove that he has no interest in going back to Russia. He has added incentive to become an islander as soon as possible. His girlfriend is a model who lives in New York.
after reportedly going through four agents in the last year.
Kabanov did not discuss his father, whom an agent blamed for making his son high maintenance. That may be a problem for the Islanders for another day, but NHL teams do not have to answer to parents like agents do. Based on pure skill alone, the Islanders have the steal of Day 2 of the draft. Even Kabanov's biggest critics in the scouting world would not argue that. Time will tell if what the young man really needed was an NHL team to call home.
"It's a new book," said Kabanov.