But now, questions abound about the former Moncton Wildcat.
The Wildcats allowed Kabanov to return to Moscow last week, saying they were giving the 6-foot-2, 173-pound left wing the opportunity to fulfill a dream of representing his country at the World Under-18 Championships in Belarus, April 13-23.
There was speculation, however, that Kabanov had been unhappy in the weeks leading up to his exodus over limited playing time. He was a healthy scratch during Moncton's opening-round playoff series against Cape Breton and a wrist injury certainly didn't help matters. In 22 regular-season games with Moncton, the rookie scored 10 goals, including 7 on the power-play, and 23 points with a plus-4 rating.
Kabanov was a major topic of discussion this week at the NHL's Central Scouting meetings. Chris Bordeleau, who scouts players from the QMJHL, was disappointed to see Kabanov leave and felt it would ultimately hurt his final ranking and chance as a high draft pick.
"The fact he left will have an effect; it's a difficult situation," Bordeleau told NHL.com. "I don't know all of the details with what happened and we really haven't had much time to think about it. But it will have an effect on his ranking."
"The fact he left will have an effect; it's a difficult situation. I don't know all of the details with what happened and we really haven't had much time to think about it. But it will have an effect on his ranking."
-- Chris Bordeleau on Kirill Kabanov
"I watched (Kabanov) a couple of weeks ago and he was good in the first of two games I saw," Bordeleau said. "He has a lot of puck skills, sees the ice well and has a good shot. But the second game he played in was more physical and he was nowhere to be seen.
"Still, he is a young kid (17) and was suffering a wrist injury. You can't expect these young kids to play great every game. While I can't say he was a top-10 pick had he stayed with Moncton, I definitely feel he would have gone somewhere in the first round. I don't know now though."
E.J. McGuire, the director of Central Scouting, said Kabanov damaged his chances of being considered a high draft choice when he decided to leave Moncton.
"When he left, that was icing on the cake," McGuire said. "Even before that, there were articles from French scouts who were questioning (Kabanov) in print how he's such high maintenance. Does he want the NHL? All those questions come into play, yet Central Scouting has to err on the side of caution because we don't interview players -- we provide them to the NHL teams to be interviewed.
"That said, we don't ignore the fact that a kid could be a troublemaker on the ice or a troublemaker with the coach. Do you drop a guy because he's high maintenance? And, if so, when will the maturity light come on? If it does, you've got a gem and you're probably getting him at a bargain basement price on the day of the draft."
Contact Mike Morreale at email@example.com