Picking a star of the week for the New York Islander and New York Ranger prospects was not hard a task at all. The New York Islanders had 2 legit choices while no Ranger prospect had a good enough week to merit one.
John Persson (2011 5th) and Kirill Kabanov (2010 3rd) put on such solid performances that it was hard to pick between the 2 so why make the choice when both earned it.
First Persson who plays for the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL as the 6'2 left winger from Mora, Sweden is being asked to step up his game now that the Rebels know that the Edmonton Oilers were not sending back Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to them.
Losing a player like a Nugent-Hopkins is a major blow but the Rebels have still found a way to get off to an 11-4-0-1 start. They are 5th in the WHL's Eastern Conference but are just 4 points out of 1st place while holding 2 games in hand over the conference leaders
John Persson is a big part of that especially the 8-1-0-1 run that the Rebels are on and this past week Persson put up back to back 3 point nights that earned him back to back first stars.
First on Friday night against the Seattle Thunderbirds, Persson had a secondary assist that tied up the game at 1-1, his 5th goal of the season which capped off a 4 goal first period by the Rebels and then a primary assist on the Rebels next goal to make it 5-1.
It also lifted Persson to the top of the Islander prospect scoring race at 5-11-16 and a 3 game scoring streak.
On Saturday, Persson was even better against the Eastern Conference leaders the Kootenay Ice with a 2-1-3 evening leading to a Red Deer 4-3 overtime win on Kootenay's home ice. It was Persson who won the game when he scored with just 7 seconds remaining in the overtime period.
Persson had scored Red Deer's first goal of the game and added a secondary assist on the goal that forced overtime. The previously unknown Persson with the 6 point week in addition to becoming the Islander prospect scoring leader is also leading the Rebels in scoring at 7-12-19.
Persson is also on a 4 game scoring streak going 4-5-9 in his last 4 almost doubling his point production during this streak. Persson is not to going be an unknown if he keeps this up.
Hard not to like someone who rather than hide and make excuses embraced his mistakes and took full responsibility for them. Watching Kabanov (wearing #77 in the picture) having his coming out party this year is a joy to behold.
Kabanov knows that because of his past that his critics are waiting for the old Kabanov to rear it's ugly head as well as making it hard for others to give him credit for when he plays well. Not us as we are seeing a player who Garth Snow took a gamble on in the 3rd round of the 2010 draft reward Snow's faith by taking the Shawinigan Cataractes by storm.
Last week Kabanov went 4-3-7 and to be honest we were not sure which performance was better? Was it scoring 2 goals in the 3rd period on Tuesday against Quebec to rally his team from down 3-1 or was it his 2-2-4 performance on Sunday against Prince Edward Island?
All Kabanov did there was take charge in the 3rd period again with 3 points to blow open a 3-1 game after his linemate Michael Chaput had left the game with an injury. In the end it was that both performances were highlighted by everything happening in the 3rd period which mattered the most to us.
And because both Persson and Kabanov stood up for their teams in key moments of the game made the decision to award both as players of the week easier.
As for the Rangers, there were individual single game performances but not good enough for the entire week to make awarding someone a star worthwhile especially when you look at what the Islander prospects did.
The annual Subway Super Series got underway with Team QMJHL hosting Team Russia in game 1 of the series. What once was Canadian domination has turned into a reality check with Russia now sending serious talented teams the last 2 years.
Game 1 was a 2-0 shut out win for Team Russia which should be a serious wake up call for the Canadian all-star teams. Neither the Rangers or Islanders have prospects dressing for the 2 games that the QMJHL teams are in but that will change as the series starts heading west.
Ryan Strome (2011 1st) will play for Team OHL in both OHL contests to be played in Ottawa on Thursday and next Monday in Sault Ste. Marie. Andrey Pedan (2011 3rd) will dress for Russia Thursday only.
Christian Thomas (2010 2nd) we had been worried would not be able to play due to his 10 game suspension but we were informed that the OHL shifted Thomas to next Monday's game so he will get to play. It is going to be a very important game for Thomas and his hopes of making Team Canada's Under-20 roster.
We are thankful that the OHL is also understanding this is Thomas's chance to make an impression on the Hockey Canada staff. Missing 10 games has hurt Thomas but we almost feel sorry for the Russian kids as we expect Thomas to play his butt off.
When the series shifts to the WHL then the Rangers are scheduled to have 2 prospects playing in the final game of the series in Moose Jaw on the 17th. Dylan McIlrath (2010 1st) is one but his status is up in the air due to his current "upper body injury".
But hard work and a 10 game scoring streak has earned Michael St. Croix (2011 4th) a spot on the roster for that game. We know how hard St. Croix has worked to earn the invite and hope he makes the best of it.
One last item as when Christian Thomas does return to the Oshawa General's lineup he will have a new coach as the Generals on Monday made a change removing the coaching duties from Chris DePiero and hiring Gary Agnew as their new coach.
For those who do not know, Adam Graves is one of the owners of the Generals so this was not an easy decision for the owners knowing Gravy but they really did not have much choice. Oshawa is 8-10-0-2 and has struggled all season (losing Thomas for 10 games did not help either).
(Persson- Red Deer Rebels, Kabanov- Cyberpresse.ca)
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