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Kabanov booted from Russia U-18 team

by Adam Kimelman
Problems continue to follow Russian-born forward Kirill Kabanov, who has been removed from Russia's team for the IIHF World Under-18 Championship.

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.

"I removed him from the team because we thought Kabanov would help us, but he brought only confusion to the team," Russia coach Mikhail Vasiliev told Sovietsky Sport. "Kabanov came and thought, 'Here I am, a star from Canada, who will save all.' But it's the team that wins rather than an individual player."

Vasiliev announced the decision Friday. The Under-18 tournament will be played April 13-23 in Belarus.

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.

"(Kabanov) is used to being a go-to guy," Moncton coach Danny Flynn told the Times and Transcript when Kabanov said he was leaving. "The fact that other guys were playing ahead of him was an adjustment that he had to learn to make. He was restless playing on the third line."

Controversy has surrounded Kabanov all season. Moncton made the immensely talented 6-foot-2, 173-pound forward the seventh pick in this past summer's Canadian Hockey League Import Draft, then had to win a lengthy arbitration case against KHL club Salavat Ufa to secure Kabanov's rights, which delayed his season debut by a month.

Then surgery to repair a wrist injury suffered last season in Russia sidelined him for three months.

When Kabanov played he was exceptional. He had 5 goals and 14 points in his first 11 games, prior to the wrist surgery, and had 10 goals and 23 points in his final 22 games.

Kabanov was ranked No. 15 by NHL Central Scouting in its midterm ranking of North American skaters eligible for the 2010 Entry Draft in January, but fell to No. 31 when the final list was released last week. Scouts admit his leaving Moncton was a big factor in his falling stock.

"The fact he left will have an effect; it's a difficult situation," Central Scouting's QMJHL scout, Chris Bordeleau, told "... 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."

Central Scouting Director E.J. McGuire said Kabanov certainly damaged his chances of being considered a high draft choice when he left 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."

However, McGuire isn't ready to give up on Kabanov as an NHL prospect.

"We don't ignore the fact that a kid could be a troublemaker on the ice or a troublemaker with the coach," he said. "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 Adam Kimelman at

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