Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:SYOSSET, NY — It is no secret that the Islanders have a deep and talented prospect pool. Headlined by the likes of Ryan Strome, Brock Nelson, Calvin de Haan, and Griffin Reinhart, just to name a few, it’s easy to understand how a player like Kirill Kabanov could get lost in the mix.
The 21-year-old Russian winger has had a well documented history of ups and downs throughout his hockey career, the latest being an injury to his wrist suffered early in the 2012-13 AHL season. Kabanov was cut on his left wrist in a game agains the Worcester Sharks and had to undergo surgery, which sidelined him for 44 games. He did get to play in 32 games, but only recorded nine points ( 2 goals, 7 assists) in that time.
“It’s hard mentally after such a hard injury,” Kabanov told Islanders Point Blank after Saturday’s on ice session. “It’s not that physically. It’s more that mentally to be back in a game, to be back and a part of the team.”
After a summer of tough training, Kabanov is back at Isles camp looking to crack the NHL roster.
In preparation for this year, Kabanov spent the summer training with former NHLer Gary Roberts. Roberts is know for running an intense off-season camp that has helped mold players such as Jeff Skinner, Jordan Staal, James Neal, and Steven Stamkos.
“He could probably have 500 people in here training if he wanted to, but that’s not who Gary is,” Stamkos told NHL.com in 2012 of Roberts. “He wants to take guys that he knows are good people, he knows are going to work hard and stay true to the program in the gym and through the nutritional aspect.”
And Kabanov feels like he has benefitted from the experience.
“It was awesome. He’s a great guy,” he said. “A great trainer and he has such a good course… We did a lot of running, workout, a lot of conditioning, so I think it helped me a lot. I come back a better player and I’ll try to do my best. I really appreciate Gary for what he did for me through the summer.”
Sound Tigers head coach Scott Pellerin said during rookie camp that he had noticed an increase in Kabanov’s confidence level.
“I thought his intensity has improved,” Pellerin said. “I think his compete level is there. He goes into the dirty areas and he just needs to find that groove for him to make plays and get his quality scoring chances.”