Isles prospect Kabanov recognized

Talented but time-challenged New York Islanders prospect Kirill Kabanov learned some good news this week, nominated for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Humanitarian Award.

Since being traded from QMJHL powerhouse Moncton to the Lewiston MAINEiacs (and yes, they capitalize the state in their nickname) Kabanov and fellow Russian Andrey Makarov have been doing outreach work with Lewiston-area schools, among other charitable activities.

From the article on the Isles' website:

“Kirill (Kabanov) did a tremendous job visiting blood donor clinics, several schools, Veterans at the American Legions, attending youth clubs at church’s and he even took the time to read to seniors,” Marcel Patenaude [Executive Vice President of the QMJHL] said. “He did a great job making sure that people around Lewiston knew about the team.”

Granted it's not exactly Nelson Mandela-type work, but it does show a team-first attitude that has to be encouraging to those invested in his future with the Islanders.

Talent has never been a question for Kabanov, who started the 2009-10 season with first-round hype but dropped to the third round of the 2010 draft amid character questions centered around his team dedication. In one instance, he left the Moncton Wildcats in the playoffs after he was unable to get more ice time. After returning to Russia for national team tryouts, he was cut from the squad amid mixed reports. Some say he clashed with the coach over a team rule not to eat peanuts off the coach's desk (seriously). Others -- and Kabanov -- maintain the Russians made an example of him to try to discourage players from leaving for North America.

Those who have spoken with Kabanov give him high marks for a congenial personality. And even Moncton head coach Danny Flynn, who will faceoff against Kabanov and the MAINEiacs in the QMJHL playoffs, still speaks highly of him.

From the Times & Transcript:

"He's a very talented player and a real likeable young man," said Flynn. "When the trade opportunity with Lewiston came up, it was something we felt made sense. We were looking to restock the cupboards (to build for the future). We got four draft picks and a young player in the deal.

"Lewiston received a very talented NHL drafted player. He'll give them help this season and next season. We hope the players we acquire with the draft picks will help us in the following seasons."

The winner of the Humanitarian Award will be announced April 6 in Montreal, but either way it seems like Kabanov may be maturing and moving past some of his enigmatic behavior. If that's the case, it can only be good news for the Islanders.