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Two Russian prospects show their stuff in Islanders camp

Islanders third-round picks Kirill Kabanov (2010) and Kirill

Islanders third-round picks Kirill Kabanov (2010) and Kirill Petrov (2008) take part in practice during Islanders prospect camp at Nassau Coliseum. (July 8, 2010) Credit: Getty Images

Russian prospects Kirill Petrov and Kirill Kabanov share a name, a country, a language and an affinity for hockey.

"But we don't share the same girlfriend," Kabanov joked when serving as a translator for Petrov during a session with reporters at Islanders prospect camp this week.

To see the two together on the ice this week, flanking both sides of recent draftee Brock Nelson in line rushes, is to witness their enormous amount of talent and skill.

On one end, Petrov blows past a defender, muscles his way to the net, and slips the puck in between the small sliver of space between goaltender Cody Rosen's left pad and the post. On the other, Kabanov darts in and picks the top right corner with Anders Nilsson in net.

"Being between the two of them while they're speaking Russian to each other, I don't really know what they're saying, but it's fun," Nelson said.

But whether the Islanders can harness that fun, that creativity, that unquestionable potential remains to be seen.

Petrov is serious and studious on the ice and has made the best impression on staff with his performance this week.

"It was my first time seeing Petrov," coach Scott Gordon said. "He's a big body who is strong on his skates. He's a powerful player"

But the 20-year-old winger, who served as captain for Russia during this year's World Junior Hockey Championships, is also bound to two more seasons with Ak Bars Kazan of the Russian Kontinental Hockey League.

And though Petrov said he wants to play in the NHL as soon as possible, he would likely need his contract nullified and rights released to play in North America.

Kabanov also possesses an elite talent set, but has been plagued by rumors of off-ice issues that caused him to fall dramatically in the rankings leading up to last month's draft, where the Islanders picked him up in the third round. He was dropped by his former agent after the NHL combine in June and was cut from the Russian Under-18 team earlier this year after a tenuous departure from his junior team, the Moncton Wildcats, during their playoffs.

The Islanders seem to be giving him a second chance, providing him with support from players and staff, and it appears Kabanov has shown his willingness to embrace the concept of a team player.

During a break in drills Thursday, Gordon made his way to the drawing board near the bench. Both Kirills looked the part of eager pupils in the first row, and every few seconds, Kabanov would lean to his left and relay the instructions to Petrov in Russian.

"It's early, but what Kabanov does for Petrov in translating is helping [Petrov], but I also think it's helpful for Kabanov. I find Petrov to be very professional and attentive, and I think that's a good example for Kabanov," Gordon said.

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