UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The New York Islanders opened their prospect camp Wednesday at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, where they worked out recent draft picks and other young players who are looking for a spot on the club.
Two that stood out among the many prospects were highly-touted Russian forwards Kirill Kabanov and Kirill Petrov. They were paired on the same line in the first on-ice session alongside first-round draft choice Brock Nelson and said "it felt cool" playing on the same line.
Both players have their goals set on making the Isles' NHL roster, but also know they have a lot of work to do and are willing to put in the time and effort to make the jump to the NHL.
Kabanov played his junior hockey with the Moncton Wildcats of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He left the team during the season to try out for the Russian U-18 team, but didn't make the cut. Relations with Moncton seem to have improved, as he said he has been in contact with Danny Flynn, the coach of the Wildcats and a former Isles assistant.
Kabanov had 22 points in 23 games in Moncton before leaving the club.
"[Flynn] has always been calling me and yesterday he sent me a message asking ‘How is your first day at the camp going?' and he has said that I can go back to Moncton whenever I want," Kabanov said.
Petrov, on the other hand, is willing to play for the Isles' minor-league affiliate in Bridgeport, Conn., if he doesn't make the NHL roster. He's coming off an impressive performance at this year's World Junior Championships, where he led the Russians in scoring and was named team captain before the end of the tournament.
The 6-foot-3 forward was held without a point in his eight games this season with Kazan Ak-Bars in the KHL.
"I didn't get a lot of ice time in Kazan in Russia and I would like to stay in North America. I will fix everything in Russia and come back for (training) camp in September," Petrov said through Kabanov, who translated.
Both players got the attention of Islanders coach Scott Gordon, who hasn't shied away from having teenagers on his roster in the past. Kabanov, a third-round pick at this year's Entry Draft, turns 18 this month. Petrov, chosen in Round 3 back in 2008, is 20.
"It was my first time seeing Petrov. Obviously he's a big body, real strong on his skates and looks like a powerful player," Gordon told NHL.com.
"[Kabanov] tries to make something happen every time he has the puck, something dynamic," Gordon said. "That is something that is a God-given ability and he is trying to work on different things and get in a game situation, he just needs to make sure he uses it in the right opportunities."
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