Friday was not a very good day for the New York Islander prospects as two of them saw their seasons come to an unhappy ending; another finds himself the subject of some questionable rumors regarding where he will be playing next year.
First up is the sad ending for the Niagara IceDogs featuring Islander prospects Ryan Strome (2011 1st) and and Mitchell Theoret (2011 7th) as they saw their season come to an end with a 2-1 loss in game five to the London Knights. London wins the OHL Championship 4-1 and now moves on to play in the Memorial Cup.
For the IceDogs this ending has to have a very bitter taste to it because there are going to be several questions asked as to why a team with so many NHL draft picks on it lost to the younger, but much more hungrier team.
(And if we are the New York Rangers, we hope they pay very close attention to what Hunter hockey was like with a chance to win a series was there for the taking.)
The credit belongs to London because they shut down the much vaunted Niagara offense. Ryan Strome was held to just two assists in game two and the second straight year, Strome "disappeared" in a critical series.
Is it fair to blame the loss on Strome? No of course not as the team as a whole was shut down, but we do have to seriously wonder about Strome's overall playoff performance.
Strome was 5-5-10 in six games during the first round against Oshawa Generals, 1-6-7 during the four-game sweep of the Brampton Battalion, 1-3-4 in five games against the Ottawa 67's in the OHL Eastern Conference Finals, but just the two assists in the championship round.
There is no doubt that Ryan Strome has talent but now, as we mentioned, he has questions about what he can do in critical situations. It is a tough situation to put anyone in, but even harder for a rebuilding franchise that needs Strome to develop into a productive player.
Strome can come back for another season with the IceDogs and right now we would have to say it would be the best move for his development. Strome has a lot to prove so give him that chance to do so in Niagara.
Theoret on the other hand, as a seventh round pick has a much lower expectation placed upon him. Theoret didn't help Strome's cause by putting in two game-winning goals during the conference finals. Theoret should be returning to Niagara unless he's traded during the OHL off-season.
Theoret we are pretty sure is going to be replaying in his head a missed opportunity he had in the first period that might have changed the outcome of this game. We like the way he played during the playoffs and we hope he turns this into a positive for next season.
Theoret also has something to prove but as a seventh rounder like we said, the expectations are lower so he can become that "diamond in the rough" late round pick who pans out.
Strome finished the regular season 30-38-68 +37 in 46 games. Strome had 9 power-play goals, 1 shorthanded, 4 game winners and 5 insurance goals. Playoffs saw Strome go 7-16-23 in 20 games with 4 power-play goals, and 1 each game winning and insurance goals.
Theoret was 12-9-21 in 62 games with the goals and points as career highs. Theoret had 3 power-play goals, 2 game winners and 4 insurance goals during the regular season. In 17 playoff games, Theoret was 4-3-7 with 2 game winners and all were career highs for him.
One of the worst parts of this job is when rumors start making the rounds. In this case a Russian website Sports.ru is reporting that Kirill Kabanov will be playing next season for Salavat Yulaev of the KHL.
Garth Snow the GM of the Islanders was quoted by Arthur Staples of Newsday as saying "News to me. He's under contract for the next 3 years."
Now there's so many problems with this rumor that it is frustrating that every year we wind up spending time chasing down some rumor or quote (Ranger or islander) from Sports.ru that winds up being a false alarm.
Most times these reports are claimed to be "taken out of context or misquoted."
Kabanov is not helping himself right now by not addressing the situation himself. It takes one simple line on his Facebook either confirming or denying it.
We want to give him the benefit of doubt because this is the same Russian team that Kabanov ran from rather than sign a KHL contract. It led to a dispute being settled by the IIHF and Kabanov was reportedly banned from playing in Russia.
There is another possibility at work here, which could be Daddy Kabanov once again getting involved with his son's career. If that's the case then we feel for young Kabanov because his father has been cited by former agents as problem causing.
Our gut says that this is once again a Russian rumor that doesn't come true. It is sad that this young man's career and even life gets turned upside down every year.
What's even sadder is how quick so many Islander fans jumped all over this rumor and started trashing Kabanov without waiting for any kind of confirmation.
How many of them will be just as quick to apologize when this turns out to be another false rumor? Sadly we don't think many will because today's social media somehow means you don't have to say "you're sorry" when you're wrong.
(New York Islanders logo and Kirill Kabanov- New York Islanders)
43 minutes ago