On Kirill Kabanov and Asset Management.

The Islanders waived Kirill Kabanov yesterday, cutting ties to a guy once thought to be a top 10 talent amongst Isles prospects.  It appears that no one has claimed him – which isn’t really a surprise; whereas prospects with off-ice problems (in Kabanov’s case, reports of lazyness and missing meetings amongst other problems) OR prospects with high talent who never seem to put it together into results often get second chances from other organizations, prospects with BOTH problems are not exactly guys that teams really want to take chances on.  It is extraordinarily unlikely that Kirill Kabanov ever amounts to anything in professional hockey, nevertheless the NHL.

That said, the Isles cutting ties with Kabanov before his ELC is even up (buying out the last year of his deal) is a typical example of poor asset management that NHL teams exhibit all the time.   NHL teams have 50 spots for NHL Contracts (which don’t count sub age 20 prospects in juniors due to the slide rule).  Your NHL team only has room for 23 players (prior to the trade deadline, when it becomes unlimited).  That means you can have 27 players who aren’t in the NHL signed and playing in your AHL/ECHL affiliate.  These are spots for extra assets.

Note:  AHL players don’t need to be on your 50 contracts – many AHL players are on AHL/ECHL deals, and thus don’t count for the 50.  So you don’t need your extra 27 slots to fill up your AHL team.  And in fact, last year the Isles were at 43 contracts – they had 7 left to give. 

This year the Isles are at 48 contracts currently, with a 49th coming soon with Kevin Poulin’s arbitration hearing.  So Kabanov was likely cut for flexibility.  But think how those spots have been filled up:
Brett Gallant given another NHL deal (Qualifying offer)
Kevin Poulin qualified (going to arbitration)
Harry Zolniercyk given a 2 way deal (with a 300K AHL salary, a nearly 300% raise!)
Jack Skille getting a 2 way deal
Kael Mouillierat given a 2 way deal. 

Of those 5 guys, only Skille and Poulin have any business in potential on an NHL roster, and Poulin* is a beyond long shot goaltender who is 4th in line for NHL time (and that should’ve been the plan when they qualified him) and Skille is at best a fourth liner.  Zolniercyk is an AHL energy guy, Gallant is a goon, and Mall Rat wasn’t even good enough to get an NHL deal prior to this year.  None of these guys, bar Skille, are good enough to be worth a 50 man slot – you can get players of similar quality on AHL/ECHL deals – in fact that’s how the Isles previously had both Gallant and Mall Rat. 

*It’s possible they expected Poulin to follow Nilsson abroad and just QOed him to retain his rights, but Poulin didn’t have any connections overseas to make that seem likely.  A bad gamble, if that’s what they were going for.

Which brings us back to Kabanov.  Kabanov is a super long shot at this point, if any shot at all – but he’s a long shot at actually being a top 9er, not being a grinder.  Moreover, THEY WERE GOING TO BE PAYING HIM THIS YEAR ANYHOW – they saved like 30K by cutting him and are still paying most of his 3rd year of his ELC.  If he bothered the AHL coaches, they could’ve loaned him to Sweden or the ECHL again – and who knows, maybe he’d pull it together.  And if he didn’t the Isles could just not qualify him next year and no harm no foul.  Instead, the Isles have a bunch of mediocre AHL players on taking up spots of assets. 

This is what I mean by poor asset management.  And every team does it by the way – so it’s not just an Isles problem.  99.9999% of the time it won’t matter, but a team like the Isles, without great financial resources, shouldn’t be casting off any lottery tickets if they don’t have to.




7 thoughts on “On Kirill Kabanov and Asset Management.

  1. You make a good point re Kabanov and as an example of not so careful ‘asset management’ by, in this case, The Islanders – though your point too is that a case for the same can be made for several other NHL teams. I had already wondered about the same point re Kabanov as well: Why would they totally give up on him with just a year left…; and because he has seemed, while always a long shot, to have such potential, I was still surprised they would jettison him and so I have to wonder whether there might be something more to this.than has or will be made public revealed.I have no idea what that might be – but, usually it isn’t someone with so much clear potential, even given all his faults, that is jettisoned.


  2. Uh, dude, Kirill said on Facebook that he ASKED the Islanders to waive him.

    He was very thankful to Garth in his message, and to the Islanders organization, as well as all the people on Long Island and Connecticut who supported him…

    Here is the snippet:

    I think it is time to say goodbye to all NY Islanders fans. Thank you for all your wishes and for great support through all those years. It was my choice to move and huge respect to Garth for understanding. I spend 4 years with the Islanders organization and never had a chance to play even in AHL for them. But I still appreciate Islanders Medical staff for being with me after injury i get my first year in Bridgeport. and all the staff in Islanders organization.. And specially fans . You will be my friends forever no matter what team i will play in the future. I made great friends and fall in love with Long Island, but it is time to move. — July 15 at 3:30pm, Kirill Kabanov’s Facebook


  3. Youre completely missing the other half of the story: the player. We dont know whats happening on thier side and what demands they want, ie play exclusively in the A with a real shot at NHL minutes during the season. Players do have demands too and while it may seem that they have to shut up and ride out thier first pro years as the team leaders tell them, that scenario just isnt true. Opinions on skill and ability and how the player should be used can and ultimately will go in different directions. We dont have to look very far to see an example of that either (niederreiter). So what happens then? What happens when team and player dont see eye to eye on those matters? I think its obvious here in kabanovs case, he simply had to be cut regardless of how many years he has on whatever contract they signed him to. Hockey is not a dictatorship, the bosses do what they can with the talent the players bring to the table and that talent can’t be forced out of them if the player doesn’t want to perform. To say that any team mismanages talent is a misinformed assumption based only on one view of that sitution. The islanders took the gamble and lost this round.


  4. To answer the multiple comments: Yes Kabanov claimed that he asked for a release….AFTER the fact. This is a self serving statement that is almost certainly made to save face – not exactly credible.


  5. And the fact that it was an ‘after the fact’ and possibly/probably self-serving statement by Kabanov is why (to answer Z-Bo above) I suggested that there might be things unknown and possibly never to be known as to why the Islanders decided to buy him out, at this point, with one year left. (I had already read Kabonov’s ‘gracious’ comments and discounted them specifically as probably face saving ones – no pun intended).


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