After the freefall of Kirill Kabanov, many wonder who will be the best Russian prospect in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft. I, personally, have little doubt. I never had actually. I always thought that Vladimir Tarasenko is a better prospect than Kirill Kabanov. It might be easy to say it now, but let’s discuss the reasons.




The accomplishments


Let’s start with some numbers. Kabanov’s career against men has been pretty unimpressive. Six regular season games, four playoff games. And zero points. He got leveled by Vitaly Vishnevsky, and that’s not what you would expect from such a hyped player. On the other hand, Vladimir Tarasenko played two full KHL seasons and scored 20 goals and 34 points. This year he scored 13 and 24. Such numbers might not sound huge to a casual Russian hockey follower but, just for comparisons, they are the same stats Ovechkin collected in his draft year. Malkin had three goals and 12 points. Datsyuk three and eight. Numbers don’t tell the whole truth, but they are a good indicator, usually.



The character


Vladimir Tarasenko and Kirill Kabanov seem to be two opposite persons. We all know what happened with Kabanov from one year ago to now. First he swapped Russian teams, then he moved to the CHL, missing more than two months for an injury. Apparently this didn’t stop him from going on vacation in some hot, sunny locale though. When he returned he played rather well, but he was not up to expectations. Then during the playoff the Moncton Wildcats freed him for the U18 WJC, using this as an excuse to get rid of him after some on and off ice discipline issues. Too bad that a couple of weeks later the same problems made him kicked off Team Russia too. “I feel like we are better without him, than with him” and “Kabanov doesn’t know how to behave” are two of the latest quotes about him, said respectively by his head coach in Moncton, Danny Flynn, and U18 Russian national team’s coach Mikhail Vasiliev. It’s a question even what team he will play next season, since it looks now unlikely that he will return back in Moncton, and he already said that he won’t sign in Russia.


Vladimir Tarasenko on the other hand has been always off such problems and has never faced any kind of personality issues or clashes with coaches. Recently Tarasenko was called to the Team Russia training camp for the 2010 IIHF World Championships in Germany, something that Kabanov might need some years to accomplish.



The ceiling


In spite of all that I said, Kirill Kabanov remains an excellent talent with tons of upside. His skating abilities and his high level of technique would make him a lock for a top 10 pick in the upcoming draft. Now of course his stock has fallen, but he still will get a lot of attention on draft day. And should he fix his attitude problems, he will become a force in the NHL and maybe even more interesting for fantasy GMs as he has all the tools to score 100 points in the regular season.


But Vladimir Tarasenko is not far off of him, although he is a different player. He doesn’t have the same raw talent of Kabanov, but he’s still a great puckhandler and a very fine goalscorer. He has one thing more than Kabanov: he plays with more poise. While Kabanov is a kind of a prototypical Russian one dimensional player, Tarasenko fights hard in the corners, tries to commit on defense, gets down to block shots. He isn’t a Russian Jere Lehtinen, but North American teams will surely appreciate his commitment and hard work on ice.


That being said, the draft is approaching, and we’ll find out soon who will really be the first Russian picked. I’m all for Tarasenko, we’ll see in June if NHL GMs agree with me or not.


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Alessandro Seren Rosso said:

Alessandro Seren Rosso
... Sorry for the late replies.

Thanks for your long comment and keep on reading my articles. I agree with some of the things you wrote, but there is a big difference between Cherepanov and Kabanov. Cherepanov has never ever caused a problem.

Surely Burmistrov is a great player, but I think Tarasenko had a better career so far. He is a pro player, Burmistrov is a junior player.

Tarasenko, Kabanov, Burmistrov, Kuznetsov, Galiev, Kitsyn is my order. We'll see.

Surely Tarasenko will come, he just said he's going to spend 1 further year in the KHL and I think it's good for his development. http://www.russianhockeyfans.c...n-129.html

Thanks to anyone who reads my stuff. Much appreciated. See you next week with a new article! If you have any wishes of players I should write about, leave me a message.
April 28, 2010
Votes: +0

Jon Dey said:

Oh, those Russians... Ra-Ra-Rasp...nevermind, I won't go there!smilies/cheesy.gif

Russian players all want to come here and be stars, no doubt. But I think that there is a lot of pressure on the oversell, and standard robotic answers. GMs and scouts have complained about this at the combines for years. All prospects are giving similar answers. I think that players should be honest to themselves and to the teams so that they get drafted accordingly. Yes, it is nice to be drafted by the current top teams, but that does not speak well for getting an actual shot any time soon.

It is my belief that agents pressure these kids to get drafted as high as possible for presumed guarenteed shots or contracts, when in actuall fact many won't get a contract for at least 1 or two more years depending on age. Rather than being honest and saying, "I want to go to a team where I will make a difference and get a shot at ice time immediately" they say "I would be happy to play anywhere" which is not true. I doubt very much that a guy projected to go high says "I want to be drafted to a contender like Detroit wit a proven system" because he is not going to see ice time any day soon.

Sad truth is that these kids are "coached" (sorry for the pun/cliché, thats the term) to say all the "right" things and not be honest or be themselves. If they were honest then they may fall a bit in the draft, but get drafted by a team that is perhaps a better fit for them, and on which they get a shot.

Russians included. I think that Russians, especially those that have played in the KHL, want/expect to get a long-look and no leash. After all they are already professionals. So it is hard for them to accept not being able to take the next step or come over with recognized creds. Like a guy switching unions, and not having seniority recognized. In fact that is really what is happening in a sense.
Russian players, especially those drafted high, expect to be played extensively. It is my belief that teams with actual systems in place (like DET) tell them, "yeah, your drafted but were not gonna look at you again for two years!". It is a simpletons approach, but I gotta see it, and I would suspect that is why teams that seem to draft ethno-centricly do this for a reason. I think Kabanov will be steal for whoever takes him late, if they give him an honest shot. I am just speculating that players like Filatov and such are promised the world by the guy on the left, and slapped in the face with reality by the guy on the right. One of the saddest draft moments I have seen was Chereponov (R.I.P.) sitting there pick after pick. It is too bad we never got to see that kid. Kabanov's drop because of "intangables" is a similar situation. The kid has skills and knows it, and wants to ply his trade. Others have preconceived "pecking orders" that he doesn't feel obliged to follow. To me that is holding the kid back. OTT doing that to Havlat is a good example in the bigs.
I know that I am blurring a few situations, but honestly I have watched some of these situations and held my nose. This is not dealing in good faith.

Man I am all over the place tonight!
April 21, 2010
Votes: +1

Brent K. Lemon said:

Barrie's favourite Russian - Alex Burmistrov I'm no Russian prospect expert, but I have watched young Burminstrov play on many occasions with the Colts and his offensive creativity is impressive.

April 21, 2010
Votes: +0

SeaDawg said:

... The problem with Tarasenko has always been a concern that he won't leave Russia. I think he might still go high in the draft, but there are question marks about him just as much as there are question marks about Kabanov. Different question marks, but they are there.

Personally, I think Burmistrov will be the first Russian taken in the draft, unless Tarasenko can convince a team during the interviews that he is committed to NA (though we have heard all that before from the likes of Radulov, Filatov, Zherdev, etc.).

It is going to be an exciting (and unpredictable) draft for the Russians with many interesting name, including Kuznetsov, Galiev and Kitsyn to go along with Tarasenko, Kabanov, and Burmistrov.
April 21, 2010
Votes: +0

lokguin said:

KHL risk? what is your opinion on whether tarasenko will come over to play in NA? if so when do you think? and will he be willing to play in the ahl?
April 21, 2010
Votes: +0
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