I’m going to limit the new guy profiles to Max Reinhart this summer. Being the first pick of 2010 for the organization, he has the greatest chance of being an NHLer going forward. More interestingly, however, he’s likely to be one of the most contentious third round choices under Sutter’s watch (as illustrated by Robert’s article below). Perhaps in the club’s history, depending on how things play out.
When the Flames chose 64th overall, there were some reportedly high-skill, high-risk players still available. Principle amongst them was the enigmatic Kirill Kabanov – a guy who would be chosen by the Islanders one pick later at 65. When the season began, the two players were on opposite ends of the draft ladder. An explanation of how they met in the middle may be illuminating.
Reinhart started the year absent on many draft lists. By January, he’d worked his way up to the 150’s amongst NA skaters according to Central Scouting. He started putting points up a far more rapid pace mid-way through the year, exploding from 11 through his first 28 games to 40 in the final 44. That’s an astounding PPG increase of .39 to .91. As a result, Reinhart moved from a late round gamble to a solid mid-round pick in the minds of many scouts. Corey Pronman had Reinhart as the 93rd best prospect on his top 100 list, while NHL’s CS placed Reinhart 74th amongst NA skaters in their final rankings.
Whether you view Reinhart’s rapid ascent as positive or negative depends on a number of factors. On the one hand, a three month, 44 game outburst is a rather small sample of impressive results – one that could be unduly influenced by both circumstances and chance. To put it another way, 40 games of noteworthy play does not a good player make. On the other hand, rapid advances are expected of kids of this age/maturation level and scouts don’t have a large body of work to judge from when it comes to 16-17 year old kids in junior anyways. We also can’t really know if Reinhart’s luck was good to end the year or simply bad to start it. So if you’re pessimistic, the Flames scouts got stars in their eyes based on a small, potentially transient chunk of play. If you’re optimistic, Calgary scooped a PPG junior player at 64th overall. Only time will tell which is more accurate.
As for Kabanov, he began the season inside many top 5 lists, including TSN’s Bob McKenzie. A wrist injury and lack of play moved Kabanov down a touch, but it was really a late-season flurry of controversy that sunk Kabanov’s stock. He was a PPG player in 22 games for Moncton, but ended up benched and then scratched to end the year due to apparent discipline problems:
In his only QMJHL playoff game against Cape Breton, Kabanov took a poor penalty in the first period, and was benched at the mid-way point of the second period. It would prove to be his last game in the QMJHL this season. In the frenzy that ensued, Kabanov left the Wildcats, poised to join Russia for the Under 18’s, where he was promptly kicked off the team after the coaching staff determined they would be better off without the highly touted forward.
Kabanov was then excluded from the Russian U-18 team for similar reasons:
"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." He also added that "Kabanov doesn’t know how to behave", and that "Kavanov’s main problem is discipline. He does whatever he wants and not what coaches ask him".
Like Reinhart, there are two potential views on Kabanov’s late season collapse: either he’s a 17 year-old kid with elite skills hampered by perspective/attitude issues, or he’s a prima donna and KHL flight risk who will only ever be, at best, a headache and a distraction to the organization that picks him.
It’s entirely possible that neither Reinhart nor Kabanov will make any sort of impact at the NHL level in the future, rendering this discussion moot. That said, it may prove to be an illustrative test case for the Flames scouting staff and the assumptions under which they operate should one drastically outperform the other. If Kabanov, then condemnation. In Reinhart, then exoneration.