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Author: Alessandro Seren RossoDate: 08/28/2009
On Kirill Kabanov 's saga

2010 Kontinental Hockey League (KHL)

As everyone now knows, the “next big Russian thing” Kirill Kabanov is now on a tight point in his career. Basically, he wants to play as soon as possible in the NHL, but he’s unsure about what decisions take in order to get his aim. The 17-years old from Moscow, who’s known for some primadonna attitudes, is a very talented forward, product of the prolific Spartak Moscow junior system, the same as Ilya Kovalchuk (Atlanta Thrashers), just to throw a name.

His current situation, so full of dark points, is not pleasant anyway, from no one of the involved parts. They are basically three:

1)The player and his father Sergei, who is compared by someone as Carl Lindros

2)Spartak Moscow, his team until this year

3)Salavat Yulaev Ufa (coached by national team boss Vyacheslav Bykov), his supposed-to-be-new-team

But to shed some light, let’s start from a basic timescale. After playing – and dominating – in the Moscow junior championships, in the 2007 Kirill signed what in Russia is called a “first contract”, and as by laws it’s a five years deal, with a 3+2 formula. His first contract contained an NHL out-clause. Let’s remember about this detail because it’s very important.

One year later the RSL turns into the KHL, and the whole contracts are to be “re-signed” in order to become effective. Thus means that in the 2008 Kabanov got the same contract with Spartak, but he knew that in the KHL such out clauses aren’t valid. As KHL’s boss Alexander Medvedev said, “the contract was signed in three copies, there is nothing that cannot be known”. In the 2008-09 season Kabanov did play for Spartak in the KHL, without too much of production as he was pointless in the 10 games he played with the team, both in the regular season and in the playoffs.

The 2009 summer is the key one. In July another KHL team, the ambitious Salavat Yulaev Ufa, run by national team head coach Vyacheslav Bykov, bought Kirill Kabanov’s rights from Spartak for a sum rumored to be around $1,000,000. It’s probable that Bykov offered a lot to the Kabanovs, to Kirill was surely promised a minimum of 10 minutes of ice per game. It would have probably been the most reasonable option and also the best for the player. He would have played in a good team, training the whole season flank-to-flank with some excellent players like Alexander Radulov (Nashville Predators) and he would have earned a lot from this experience. But in all this situation enters also a fourth part:

4)Moncton Wildcats, the team who owns his CHL rights

In the last Import draft Kirill Kabanov has been drafted with the seventh overall pick by the QMJHL team. Despite they play a key role in the situation as Kabanov can play only there if not in the KHL, they haven’t claimed anything and only stated that they are “working to get Kabanov as he wants to play there”.

After he was traded to Salavat, Kabanov traveled with the national under 18 team to Czech Republic and Slovakia, where he helped team Russia to get a silver medal in the traditional Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. After that, he refused to report to Salavat Yulaev’s training camp. Sergei Kabanov claimed the situation simple to resolve: “a free departure for Kirill to the NHL without any compensation” – as he declared to Russian popular network

KHL boss Alexander Medvedev rectified the situation in a meeting in Moscow. “There are no insurmountable barriers t leave for the NHL, but certain conditions must be met. In this case, the conditions are the payment of a compensation” – he declared.

In fact, the article 48 of the KHL CBA states that any contract can be bought out for approximately two thirds of the player’s salary. This is what has been done by Kabanov’s co-aged Ivan Telegin not too much time ago, when he bought out his contract with Metallurg Novokuznetsk for 800,000 roubles.

It’s not clear why Kabanov simply didn’t act like him. Surely his salary is higher, although the author of this article thinks that it would not be a hard task to get some money for that in any way, being them from Russia (he comes from a healthy family) or from North America (the Moncton Wildcats and his agent might be interested in open the wallet). He preferred holding a kind of legal battle, which is a risky play for him.

Medvedev threatened a 3 years disqualification from the KHL as he didn’t respect contractual obligations. Salavat Yulaev of course supports this decision as they will be deprived of a player they paid one million dollars for. If he will be disqualified he risks to lose the rights to play for the national team, even if this point isn’t clear. And as the CHL is an IIHF affiliated, it might indicate that he won’t be cleared to play in that league either as the IIHF might agree with Salavat Yulaev. This would mean that the only place Kabanov might play is the NHL, but there is a problem: he’s too young to play there, at least for this season.

What will happen? Where will Kabanov play? Will he get the #17 that he wants to the point that he asked it in his contract negotiation? The opinion of the writer is that he’ll somewhat get to play in Moncton and that once again the KHL – even if they are guilty of playing hard ball to a player who is only 17 years old – won’t get anything for the loss of another good player they spent a lot of resources to grew and develop.

The last word on the case will be said on September 2nd.

Related Player Profiles: . K.Kabanov I.Kovalchuk A.Radulov I.Telegin
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