In an absolutely mind boggling move, the top rated 2010 draft eligible Russian playing in North America has suddenly abandoned his team and gone back to his homeland. Kirill Kabanov has officially left the Moncton Wildcats and has returned to Russia.
The Wildcats have released a statement confirming the move.
My thoughts in a second...
This is a very strange decision for a player in his draft year, especially one who has tried so hard to distance himself from the idea that Russian players are a risk to select because they might not come over.
This could really backfire on Kabanov come June 25th in Los Angeles. The Russian has been a top 15-rated prospect all season despite a lengthy injury.
Apparently Kabanov was bench for the third period of Moncton's first playoff game against Cape Breton and was a healthy scratch for game 2.
I don't buy the U18 reasoning at all - that tournament doesn't start for another couple of weeks and you'd think the Wildcats would want one of their best players to help them in the playoffs until then. Maybe the decision wasn't Kabanov's but the choice of head coach Danny Flynn?
There has to be more to this story and tomorrow night on TPS we'll speak with our old friend Kevin Forbes who is on top of the situation.
UPDATE: I spoke with a scout based out East who told me that he's heard there has been friction between Kabanov and his Moncton teammates because the Russian has been "high maintenance" this year. One account has Kabanov missing the team bus to Halifax a few weeks back.
As for Game 1 against Cape Breton: "He took a dumb penalty; a stupid, lazy interference call and went to the box and slammed his stick. Then he was the 6th guy on the ice for a too-many-men call and then turned around with his hands in the air as if to say "What? It wasn't me!" when it clearly was him. So the coach benched him for the second period, he'd played like 4 shifts and one was a power play, and after the second period he took his shit off and didn't come out for the third."
There has been some speculation that coach Flynn told him to get undressed.
Making matters more interesting, apparently Kabanov's parents were in attendance for the game. The Russian was not present for Game 2.
"Maybe his parents took him home with them... him and all the money they got."
The scout I spoke with says that he's heard that Moncton had to cough up in the neighborhood of $500K to cover the fee to Russia and the agent, the types of things we often hear speculated about around the CHL's Import Draft. If that figure is accurate, that's a hell of a price to pay for 22 regular season games. Factor in that Moncton helped Kabanov get his KHL injured wrist repaired.
Again, we'll speak with Kevin Forbes tonight and maybe there will be more news on the situation.