Home > CHL, Draft, NHL > Is it fair to count out Kabanov as a top prospect?

Is it fair to count out Kabanov as a top prospect?

NHL.com reported yesterday that scouts are no longer considering Russian Kirill Kabanov a top prospect for the 2010 NHL entry draft because he chose to go home to Russia to compete in the World Under-18 Championships in Belarus. Mind you, his team, the Moncton Wildcats of the Quebec Major Junior League (QMJHL), allowed him to leave to compete with his country.

Kabanov began his career with the former Russian Super League that later became the Kontinental Hockey League. He signed a 5 year contract with the HC Spartak Moscow that allowed him to leave the league for the NHL if offered the chance. When the KHL took over, Kabanov signed a new contract to replace the old one, but midway through the season they took away his “escape clause”, sold his playing rights, and attempted to force him to sign a new contract with the Salavat Yulaev Ufa who refused to grant him another out to play with the NHL.

Kabanov refused to sign the contract and petitioned to play in the QMJHL for Moncton, the team that owned his Canadian Hockey League (CHL) rights. After a huge battle with Ufa, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) sided with Moncton and Kabanov began his career in the CHL 10 games into the season. Signing with Moncton disqualified Kabanov to play in Russia again for 3 years. Kabanov is ranked 15th among potential 2010 draft candidates by NHL Central Scouting and 8th by International Scouting Services. But where does he stand now?

To say Kabanov is less likely to be picked up in the first round for choosing to leave Moncton to play for the country that produced him is ludicrous. That is like saying that Russian superstar Alex Ovechkin will have less of a chance at having a successful season, yet again, if the NHL decides to not shut down the league in favor of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and he still decides to go, a threat he has made on multiple occasions since this year’s Olympics in Vancouver.

It has been reported that there were numerous articles printed by French Scouts questioning whether Kabanov wanted the NHL. How is there even a question? The 17 year old screwed any chance he had to play in his home country for 3 years because they wouldn’t allow him to have an “escape clause” in his contract if approached by the league. If he didn’t want to play in the National Hockey League, he could have stayed in Russia and gotten paid to play for the KHL. Instead, he chose to go to Canada where he could be granted that opportunity sometime in the future. If that doesn’t say I want the NHL, I don’t know what does.

No one is saying that Kabanov doesn’t have a shot at the NHL, there’s now just more of a chance at him being a 4th or 5th round pick than the original 1st round thought. While there is very little information as to what went down in Moncton, and if the U-18 Championship is the real reason why a top prospect  left to go home in the middle of the playoffs, many bloggers are crediting his Russian decent as another key factor to why he may be selected later on if and when he returns from Russia. It is well-known that the KHL does not respect NHL contracts, and there have been players like former Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nikita Filatov, who have played in the NHL for awhile and then asked to return home to Russia. It’s understandable that an NHL team would be leery of giving up a high draft pick just to lose him down the road.

But not every Russian is a flight risk. Look at Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Evgeni Malkin, Pavel Datsyuk, they all have incredible talent, played for their home country in an international championship tournament, and have come back to their respected NHL teams. And while Kabanov’s true thought process is unknown to all of us, it is highly likely he is the same way, otherwise why would he have fought the team that allegedly spent 1,000,000 for his playing rights just so he could eventually have a shot at the NHL?

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