With a prospect system devoid of offensive talent, Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli went to June’s annual selection process with one major objective. He wanted to add to the offensive talent in the system. He hit what looks to be a home run with his first round pick in Kailer Yamamoto, and took a good bet on Ostap Safin later in the draft.
When the fifth round came around, the Oilers decided to take more risks on talented forwards. With the 146th pick of the weekend, the club selected Kirill Maksimov, a Russian forward from the OHL. Maksimov saw his season split in half last year, playing 37 games for the Saginaw Spirit and 29 games with the Niagara IceDogs. His stat splits were eye opening, with Maksimov taking off in Niagara and scoring 15 goals in 29 games.
2016-17 wasn’t an ideal year for Maksimov in many ways, but tons of scouts like him and many beamed about the selection on draft weekend. From what we know about him Maksimov seems like a talented enigma, but we just don’t know enough.
So…..Just Who Is Kirill Maksimov?:
Born in Ontario but raised in Russia, Maksimov has an interesting set of skills. He’s a bigger guy, but doesn’t exactly play a physical style of hockey. He appears to be a goal scorer, evident by the fact that 21 of his 38 points last season were goals. What else does Maksimov do well, and what areas does he need to correct? For that, we turn to the scouts.
OHL Writers: “Maksimov has good size but, of course, he will need to add some bulk and is still learning to use his size. His skating is good and speed is sufficient – he can challenge defenders one-on-one and can win a lot of those races. He can beat a goaltender with a variety of shots including the backhand. His release can be hard to pick up as he can get it off quickly.
Maksimov is not just a goal scorer. In my opinion, his playmaking skills are underrated in some circles. His vision is very good and he reads things quickly and can find teammates in open space or under coverage with tape-to-tape passes. Defensively, Maksimov must put in some work even if it’s just putting in more effort. Offensively, if he can add another gear to his step and pick up the physicality, there’s no telling what his limits will be.”
The Edmonton Journal’s Bruce McCurdy also did a write up on Maksimov after he was drafted, and you can read that here.
What Can We Expect:
The hope for Maksimov in 2016-17, just like with defender Dmitri Samorukov, is for consistency. Maksimov struggled with the Saginaw Spirit in the first part of the season, but blossomed with 15-7-22 in 29 games with Niagara. A season at or around a point-per-game should be the expectation for Maksimov with the IceDogs.
If he can do that, he will have proven that his struggles in Saginaw were due to being a poor fit there, and that he is in fact an offensive prospect of some note. Emerging as a consistent offensive threat would do wonders for this player.
I wouldn’t expect to see Maksimov around camp very long next month, maybe only for the split-squad game if that. He’ll be an interesting player to watch at the rookie tournament, and I suspect he will have some success in that environment.
I leave you with a look back at Maksimov’s 2016-17 season.