TWO COUNTRYMEN, ONE GOAL
Kirill Petrov and Kirill Kabanov talk to NewYorkIslanders.com about taking on the NHL
Friday, 07.9.2010 / 9:26 AM ET / News
By Alex Silverman
Islanders’ draft picks Kirill Petrov and Kirill Kabanov have a lot more in common than just a first name. Both were born and raised in Russia, both were considered among the most skilled players in their respective draft classes, and now both want to prove that they’re ready to play in the NHL.
At this week’s Mini Camp, the two have been virtually inseparable. On the ice, the two have shown chemistry, playing on the same line alongside first-round pick Brock Nelson. Kabanov has also acted as Petrov’s translator, taking in Head Coach Scott Gordon’s instructions and relaying them to his teammate in Russian. Off the ice, the two have bonded over their common backgrounds and common goals. For both players, Mini Camp represents a first chance to show the coaching staff what they bring to the table.
“We’re really excited and we’re trying to show our best game together,” Petrov said through his teammate and translator.
Petrov, who has spent the last two seasons playing in Russia’s KHL, hopes that he can begin his NHL career this upcoming season. While the decision ultimately lies with the Islanders, Kabanov believes that his Mini Camp linemate has what it takes.
“[Petrov] is really good. He’s fast, skilled, and he’s a really great player,” Kabanov said. “I think he will be a star in the NHL soon.”
Scott Gordon also had a great deal of praise for Petrov, whose size and strength impressed the Head Coach.
“I think with Petrov, his strength is probably second to none on the ice,” Gordon said. “He skates well, he protects pucks well, and he's strong on his feet. He's had the opportunity to play against pros over in Russia and it shows.”
Gordon was also impressed by Petrov’s demeanor and how well he has been able to overcome his inability to speak English.
“I find him to be very professional about how he practices and very attentive for a guy that speaks limited English,” Gordon said. “He follows the drills, he understands what's going on the ice and what should be a huge disadvantage for him, hasn't been out there so far.”
Kabanov also has the NHL in his plans for the near future. He spent last season in the QMJHL with the Moncton Wildcats, where he tallied 23 points (10 goals, 13 assists) in just 22 games. As a 2010 draft pick, Kabanov could return to Moncton for another season, but hopes that he can make a good enough impression to stay on Long Island.
“I just want to show the coaches my game and I will work hard to make the NHL as soon as I can,” Kabanov said.
While Kabanov’s skill level speaks for itself, Gordon acknowledged that his size might be a limiting factor in how quickly he can make the leap to the NHL.
“[Kabanov] has been playing junior hockey,” Gordon said. “He hasn't filled out like Petrov has, but that will improve as he gets older.”
Though both Petrov and Kabanov will have to wait at least a few months to make their NHL debuts, the two will play in front of Islanders fans on Nassau Coliseum ice for the first time this Saturday as part of the Orange vs. Blue Scrimmage and Skills Competition. Kabanov is excited about the chance to scrimmage the other prospects.
“It’s kind of fun actually because it’s the first game and that all the prospects for Islanders are there,” Kabanov said. “We will just have fun and work hard.”