The NHL Entry Draft is one of my favourite events of each season, and to prepare for it I’m going to do a reverse top-30 countdown of the eligible players.  I’m drawing on math, various independent scouting reports, and the data in the draft issues of McKeen’s and The Hockey News.


Ranked #30 on my list is Kirill Kabanov, the high-end Russian prospect who spent most of this season with Moncton of the QMJHL.  Based on pure talent, Kabanov should be ranked much higher, but he has the “Russian factor” working against him as well as some drama with his Major Junior team, the Russian U-18 team and his former agent.


Talent-wise, there are few drawbacks: Kabanov has size and strength, he can shoot and pass, and he’s a high-end skater.  He takes undisciplined penalties (he was benched at least once by his junior coach as a result) and nobody seems eager to sing praises about his defensive work, but offensively he’s a top-10 talent.


As for the drama, he rubbed people the wrong way in the KHL because he wanted to come to North America, then he was hurt for much of the season and finally left Moncton after being scratched by his coach, ostensibly to join Russia in preparation for the U-18 championships.  He was dropped by the Russian team prior to the tournament, and now his agent has advised him to seek other representation.


Nobody is going to be willing to risk a high pick on Kabanov because he’s such a gamble, but if things break right he’ll be a steal later on in the draft.


McKeen’s Ranking: #31 – “[H]e is the ultimate high-risk, high-reward prospect.”

THN Ranking: #38 – “If it were based on talent alone, Kabanov would be fighting for the No. 1 spot.”

Comments (14)

  1. I think if the leafs can pull off a deal that lands them a low 1st rounder or high second rnd pick Burke has this guy number one on his list.

  2. Hes not getting out of the first round. There has got to be a team that has him in their top 15, top 20 and is willing to risk it

  3. I wouldnt risk taking him high in the first round. Despite his talent the negatives outweigh the positives at the moment. He might pan out and be a top end talent or he can flop like so many russian prospects did in the past because of their attitude.

  4. Yea i think low first round, and if not definetly very high second. Doubt he leaves the first though. Maybe a team trades back in?

  5. After watching what Columbus is going through with Filitov anyone who takes this guy in the 1st round is potentially wasting a high pick.

  6. Kababov’s skill set and size are drool worthy, but the “Russian factor” will allow him to drop as JW’s pointed out. Given the tendency for guys like Hudler and Zherdev to leave for the KHL, and then wanting to come back… Kabanov could be the steal of the draft for somebody. Just hope he doesn’t end up in the same place as Ken Hitchcock, assuming he gets hired.

  7. Detroit takes him, you heard it here first haha, his size and skill is unreall and ken holland will get him here and turn him into the real deal

  8. I can see a team like Phoenix or Boston taking a chance on him since they have two first rounders. Atlanta might to if he falls to there pick they got from New Jersey for Kovalchuk. If he falls any farther then that I’ll be shocked.

  9. I could see ATL, maybe Wash, probably a team that plays an up-tempo style, i doubt a defensive team like PHX or BOS. Question, John, how NHL ready is this kid? Do you think he starts next year in the NHL?

  10. Is he NHL ready probably, but whomever drafts him runs the risk of losing him because. While he might be NHL ready does that mean he’s good enough to beat out other roster players for a top six spot. Or good enough to beat out older prospects that have AHL experience under there belt. And if he doesn’t make it is he willing to sit in the minors where other young russians in Filatov, and Zherdev we’re not?

  11. The Russian factor doesn’t completely apply here. At the draft combine in Toronto Kabanov announced that he had been banned from KHL play for 5 years and from international competitions with Russia’s team for 3 years. He has nowhere to go other than North America for the immediate future. Given the right mentor (I’m thinking Ovechkin in Washington) he could easily be the steal of the draft.

  12. He is ready for the NHL but would be a waste on a team not rebuilding or plugging a whole for cap reason’s . I could see Edmonton or ATL, or even Pitts as they have Malkin who would get his head in the right space.

  13. I meant to put edmonton trading for another 1st round pick!

  14. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Canucks take him if he’s available at the 25th pick.

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