Longtime readers of this site know that in addition to bringing you constant news about Kyle Okposo and his teammates, we're always keen on sharing some of the overlooked stories too. Whether it was interviewing Shuhei Kuji last year or talking F1 racing with Sean Bergenheim, it has always been a treat and a challenge to find stories that folks may not have heard.
You also might have noticed along the way that we love seeing and discussing the up and coming young Islanders. Prospect mini camp has always been one of our favorite events in to attend, which is why we were dismayed when we found out that our schedule didn't allow us to cover the camp this summer. The mini camp is always a chance for our editor, Ken, to both unearth some interesting angles and routinely embarrass himself in front of prospects as he attempts to speak their native tongue, whether it be Japanese, Russian, or English.
And this year two of the most intriguing prospects this season happen to come from Russia, Kirill Petrov and Kirill Kabanov.
Let's begin with Kabanov, as his name is probably fresher in everyone's minds. The 17 year old (he'll turn 18 on July 16th) Muscovite was selected in the 2010 NHL draft in the 3rd round. Almost everyone regarded the pick as a "low-risk, high reward" selection for the Islanders. At one time, there was talk of Kabanov being a first round pick, perhaps even #1 overall. Well, it didn't happen for the young Russian, as he developed a reputation of being difficult, having his commitment to teams and work ethic questioned, and rumors pervaded of him spending more time in tattoo parlors than on the ice. (For anyone who is interested in confirming that the young man's body is not "covered in tattoos," you can see some of them midway through this YouTube video. The clip actually makes him seem pretty normal, but rumors have a way of snowballing, we suppose).
Kabanov is using mini camp week to dispel these myths and show his talent, and initial reports that we've read are all positive.
Along with Kabanov at the camp this week is the other half of "The Kirills," Mr. Petrov. The story surrounding him was not so much his attitude, but whether or not he was willing and able to play in the US. Currently signed with Ak Bars Kazan of the Russian KHL, Petrov has made it clear to the team that he is dedicated to one day becoming an Islander. He is willing to take on the challenge, whatever it entails for him, including 'paying his dues' in the minors. That's refreshing to hear, if he stays true to that course.
The only thing Islanders fans want to see right now is the rebuild progress steadily, and for the Russian duo to perhaps be part of it. Not only for the success of the young men and the team, but to reassure people that the scouting department and management of the club really do know what they are doing.
In addition to 'The Kirills,' there are scores of other stories that usually emerge from mini camp. Since we can't be there, we advise you to check the official team site's daily mini camp blog and our sister sites in the Blog Box (linked on the right side of our main page).
Lastly, for those of you interested in seeing the youngsters for yourselves, a prospect scrimmage and skills competition will be open to the public on Saturday (7/10) night. Tickets to the event and information can be found here. We wish all of the prospects luck in their journey to become New York Islanders.