, the past year of experience has made a world of difference.
There are a lot of new faces at Islanders Mini-Camp this year, but for Islanders prospect and returning camper
“I’ve worked hard all year to improve myself,” Kabanov said. “I’m just trying to show that to the coaching staff so they will invite me to training camp in September.
Kabanov was drafted by the Islanders in the third round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft and the Russian winger attended his first professional mini-camp a few weeks later. A lot has changed since that camp last summer.
On July 1, 2011 Kabanov signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Islanders. The Moscow native was ecstatic to have an NHL deal only a year after being selected 65th overall.
“I was so excited to sign a contract,” Kabanov said. “I want to thank Garth Snow for that. When you just get drafted, you want to make the team as soon as possible. So getting signed only one year later is something that not many third-round picks do.”
He continued, “I was happy to become a part of the organization officially and it means a lot for my career and my life. Growing up, my dream was to sign with an NHL team. Once I found out about the deal I was so happy. I think at that moment I was the happiest guy in the world.”
Kabanov has a lot to be happy about these days. Not only does he have an NHL contract, but he is coming off his best season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) to date. He netted 11 goals and had 17 assists in 37 regular season games for the Lewiston MAINEiacs, and another 20 points (8g/12a) in 15 playoff games.
Over the past year, Kabanov has put on weight and has become a more physical player, which led to that better season on the ice. He is also very grateful to have a skilled supporting cast in Lewiston.
“There was a great coaching staff and organization in Lewiston,” Kabanov said. “I had a lot of good teammates and linemates around me.”
He also said that he has matured over the last year. The media has questioned his dedication in the past, but Kabanov is committed to proving them wrong and showing the Islanders coaching staff and front office that he’s taking his time on Long Island very seriously.
“I am trying to change their (perception) of me,” Kabanov said. “I want to show the (Islanders staff) that I’ve changed a lot and my attitude has gotten better.”
Kabanov made sure to make a quick impression in his second mini-camp. He was a half-hour early for the 7 a.m. start time and one of the first prospects to arrive at the Coliseum this morning.
He wants to show his dedication to the Islanders organization, but he was also anxious to meet a few of the Islanders 2011 draft picks. Kabanov introduced himself to 2011 fifth overall pick Ryan Strome
and is excited to see what he can do on the ice.
“Strome had a really good season with Niagara this year,” Kabanov said. “I’ve seen a couple of his videos on YouTube. He’s a pretty skilled guy and I hope he works out for us.”
Kabanov will play alongside Strome and another fifth overall pick, Nino Niederreiter
, this week. This is sure to be one of the lines that fans will be watching on Saturday, July 16, during the Blue and White Scrimmage & Skills Competition.
Until Saturday, Kabanov will be sure to make the most of his second mini-camp on the ice. Off the ice, he hopes to get to know the fellow prospects and enjoy his time on Long Island. Yesterday, he met fellow countryman, Andrey Pedan
, and the two went to lunch nearby. Kabanov is growing accustomed to life on Long Island, and coincidentally, so is his mom.
“I’m really happy to be with the Islanders,” Kabanov said. “Long Island is beautiful. Even my mom loves it here. She says it’s better than a vacation to come here.”
Kabanov will have the next few days to work hard and enjoy his time on Long Island. The recently signed and much matured Russian forward has a big week ahead of him.