There is an international controversy brewing around Russian prospect Kirill Kabanov.
Kabanov was reportedly removed from Russia's Under-18 team that is set to compete at the upcoming U-18 IIHF World Hockey Championship in Belarus by head coach Mikhail Vasiliev due to lack of discipline.
"I removed him from the team because we thought Kabanov would help us, but he brought only confusion to the team," Vasiliev told Sovietsky Sport. "Kabanov came and thought 'Here I am, a star from Canada, who will save all.' But it's the team that wins rather than an individual player."
However J.P. Barry of CAA Sports, whom Kabanov retained as his agent just one week ago, told TSN that his client had been sent home without an explanation and is being punished by the Russian hockey federation.
"It's pretty obvious that Kirill has been blacklisted in Russia as a direct result of his departure from the KHL last fall," Barry told TSN.
Kabanov, who remains property of the Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL, won an arbitration case against the KHL, clearing the way for him to leave Ufa Salavat to play in North America.
The dispute erupted after Moscow Spartak, Kabanov's original KHL team traded his playing rights to Salavat. Kabanov's contract included an out clause which Salavat challenged. The IIHF sided with Kabanov and he was allowed to play with the Wildcats.
Barry stated that his client needed to leave the KHL to achieve his dream of competing against the best players in the World in the NHL.
"If Kirill had remained in the KHL last fall, he would have been required to sign a long term contract that would impede him from playing in the NHL for several years," Barry told TSN.
However the controversy surrounding Kabanov did not end there. He was recently allowed by his team, the Moncton Wildcats, to return to Russia to attend the World U-18 championships, despite the fact that the Wildcats were in the midst of their QMJHL playoff run. Moncton currently hold a 3-0 lead over Rouyn-Noranda in their Western Conference semifinal matchup.
This latest incident will not help Kabanov's draft stock as he has been in free fall, plummeting from 15th to 31st in the NHL's Central Scouting Bureau's final rankings of the season earlier in the week. Despite the setbacks, Barry stated that the NHL remains the goal of his client.
"We will now prepare Kirill for the upcoming NHL Combines and the NHL Draft,” Barry told TSN. “Kirill is an extremely dynamic talent; he speaks English perfectly and is highly motivated to play in the NHL."
"He will soon have an NHL team who will help us chart his future development."
In 22 games this season with Moncton, Kabanov has 10 goals and 13 assists. He missed more than 10 weeks of the season after undergoing corrective surgery on his wrist, an injury he suffered the season before in Russia. He was also a healthy scratch during Moncton's opening-round playoff series against Cape Breton.