Rolling the Dice: Kirill Kabanov

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The big news today is that agent JP Barry dropped Kirill Kabanov as a client. Kabanov's draft stock is absolutely plummeting following discussion that he has a bad attitude.

Amidst all those burnt bridges this season, Kabanov’s stock for the 2010 draft plummeted from the top five to perhaps somewhere in the second or third round by now. THN’s Draft Preview ranked him No. 38 this year.

As all of you are aware Toronto doesn't pick until slot 62 in the draft and if somehow Kirill Kabanov is available it's imperative that the Leafs draft him. Follow me across the break to see why I'm not worried.  

August 25th, 2009: Kabanov gets in trouble in the KHL

A 17-year-old Russian touted as the possible No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 N.H.L. entry draft faces almost certain suspension by the K.H.L. after he refused to sign a contract that contained no clause allowing him to depart for North America. - New York Times

Two things to note here: Kabanov didn't want to be stuck in the KHL and he used to be regarded as a possible #1 overall. If his bad attitude reputation begins because he didn't want to sign long term in the KHL: who cares? The KHL is, to paraphrase Wayne Gretzky, a Mickey Mouse league. If I was a prospect I'd work on getting out of there as soon as possible.

That anecdote looks 100% positive. The next one is a lot murkier but it's a player we'd be burning a second or third round pick on hoping to hit upside. This is from April 12th of this year:

Kabanov, who left the QMJHL's Moncton Wildcats in the midst of their playoff run to join the Russian team, was dismissed for discipline problems.

...

Kabanov had left Moncton amid a bit of controversy. Publicly, the club said it agreed with the player's request to leave the team to train with Russian U-18 team. However, Kabanov could have been unhappy with his playing time. He had been playing left wing on the third line, had been benched for the final two periods of Moncton's playoff opener, and was a healthy scratch for Game 2. After that game, he announced his intentions to return to Russia - NHL.com

Worth noting about his time in Moncton: Kirill Kabanov played with a serious wrist injury and despite third line ice time he scored 10 goals and added 13 assists in his first 22 games on North American ice. (1.05ppg)

Kabanov looks like a kid who's cocky (and if you thought you could go first overall in the NHL draft you'd be pretty cocky too), but check out this video linked by The Hockey Goddesses:

However, at this year’s combine, Kabanov gave one of the most impressive interviews I’ve ever seen from a guy his age.  Maybe he was groomed for the interview by his father or his agent, but it’s hard to pull off sincerity in a foreign language unless that’s exactly what it is –- sincere.  Take a look at the interview and I think you’ll see a humble, intelligent and honest 17 year old who seems wise beyond his years. Let’s not forget — he’s just a kid! - The Hockey Goddesses

Is Kabanov a sure fire top five selection? Not if I were running a franchise. He looks like he has some maturity issues and a top five pick is way too valuable to gamble with. A mid-round second isn't. Based on our lack of orgazational depth the Leafs should be working hard to target undervalued assets. Kabanov's not the first player with meddling parents, he's not the first player who's been jerked around coming to the CHL from Russia and he won't be the last.

A year ago Kirill Kabanov had possible #1 overall talent. I don't think a single injury ridden season takes away from that and I'm betting if Kabanov hadn't hurt his wrist he would have played from the start of the season, scored from the start of the season and no one would care that he got into a spat with the KHL because they'd be too busy drooling over the possibilites. His draft stock nosedive reeks of group think and that's what the Leafs should exploit.

Brian Burke wants to make trades and grab elite talent in the draft? You want a talented 6'3" winger? Move something for a second rounder Burke and take a shot at Kabanov.

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