The Edmonton Oilers drafted Kirill Maksimov in the 5th round of last year’s draft. If you are not sure who he is, here are some highlights of #13 from last year:
Now, if you already follow me on Twitter then you probably already know that I was ecstatic over the pick in the 5th round. I wouldn’t shut up about him all summer. Well, Maksimov made his first impression on Oiler fans with an outstanding Rookie camp. He scored a highlight end-to-end goal to win a game in overtime that caught the eye of everyone. Remember this?
I am not a Professional scout just a fan who watches a pile of hockey. I have made it a point to record every Niagara game this year and watch as much tape on him as I can. Here is my breakdown of his first game from earlier in the year in case you missed it: (Ctrl+click) https://theoilknight.ca/category/uncategorized/scouting-the-ohl/.
So how has “Maksi” developed since then? Who has he been playing with? What are his strengths and weaknesses? What kind of player does he project at the NHL level? Let’s take a look:
Kirill Maksimov, 18, Niagara Ice Dogs, RW
- 23 goals, 17 assists, 40 points in 33 games.
- Tied for 6th in OHL with 9 PPG’s. Also has a SHG, 2 GWG’s.
- Averages 4 shots a game.
- 3rd on team in PIM with 41.
Notes: Had an 8 game point streak in mid-late November where he scored 7G, 5A in 8 games and currently has 9 points in last 5 games including a goal in all 5 games one of which was the OT winner.
Season in Review:
Kirill had a great start to the OHL season scoring 6 points in the first 3 games but then the 4th game against Sudbury he took a slewfoot penalty and ended up getting suspended 2 games for it. The rest of October he had a lot of chances but ended the month only scoring 3 goals and 2 assists in 8 games (he had 31 shots). It’s important to keep in mind Niagara’s only other real offensive threat is C/RW Akil Thomas who is a potential 1st round pick this upcoming draft. Vegas’ 7th rounder Ben Jones is decent and the #1C but has nowhere near the talent Maksimov or Thomas does. Captain LW Johnny Corneil is an undrafted overager who typically plays top line with Jones. So Kirill started the season with Jones & Corneil, then got a shot with Thomas as #1C but they didn’t capitalize 5 on 5 early so coach Billy Burke got away from it much to my dismay.
After getting dominated by Mississauga October 29th Burke then decided to split up Thomas and Maksimov and put the Russian back with Jones on the Top line. It worked for a couple games as Maksimov scored in both games following the move while registering 14 shots in 2 contests. Then, after a couple more average games Burke put him back with Thomas again on the 2nd line this time (along with undrafted 18 yr old Oliver Castleman) and Maksimov ripped off his longest point scoring streak of the season scoring 13 points in 8 games to finish November.
The first 2 games in December, Maskimov registered 1 goal in 2 games but was all over the ice so Burke once again moved him up to the Top line with Jones but also moved Castleman to Top line too since Corneil was hurt and it paid off with Kirill scoring 4 goals 2 assists in 5 games leading up to the Christmas break. Since then, Niagara has won 3 straight with Maksimov scoring a goal and assist in all 3 games including the OT winner Dec. 28th. The Ice Dogs currently are second in a weak Central division with an 19-11-5 record thanks mainly to their outstanding PK (2nd in OHL) and underrated goalie Stephen Dhillon (a 19 yr old who is somehow still undrafted and unsigned by an NHL team). It’s been a pretty good year so far for Maksimov but as I mentioned he is not playing with much talent up front or on the back end where Niagara has a very average defence at best. Otherwise, his numbers would surely be even that much better.
Without question Maksimov is a PP dynamo. He has a tremendous shot including a terrific release both on the slapshot and wrister. It is deadly as the highlights will show and he can get a quick shot off from pretty much anywhere. He has wonderful hands in around the net and is very adept at tipping pucks. He also possesses great vision and is very poised with the puck. He never panics, he slows down and let’s plays develop. Quite often he just makes things look so easy. He’s good at shielding off defenders and likes to lean on them to get an advantage. He’s usually hard on the puck, is quite physical at times and willingly engages physically in puck battles. Pretty good forechecker. He does a terrific job of finding the open ice and creating space for himself. Defensively, he is very responsible in his own end. Doesn’t get caught cheating out of his zone much and often picks off a lot of pucks. Hustles back to take his man. Developing into a Power Forward with a cannon for a shot.
While certainly not a weakness, he is not the most explosive skater and his agility is limited somewhat. He’s not a stop and start kind of guy with short bursts he’s more of a winding skater who takes a bit to get going. More of a glider with those big long strides but again doesn’t need great speed anyways as he is so adept with his positioning he always seems to get to where he needs to. He still needs to get stronger but he’s only 18 there’s no reason to think he won’t. His team isn’t very talented so sometimes they do have a hard time getting him the puck which occasionally takes him out of the game 5 on 5. Not really a driver more of guy who looks to get open. Opponents have caught on that his blistering one timer from the left half wall on the Powerplay is something to do avoid so they have made adjustments which has subsequently moved him to the point on the PP at times. Not the greatest stickhandler in the world he’s more of a puck possession guy who relies on positioning and strength to create chances. Sometimes relies too much on that big shot.
The more I watch Maksimov the more I see similarities from Draisaitl’s pro game (especially when he was a winger). I did not see much of Draisaitl as a WHL’er unfortunately but it’s hard not to compare the two they almost look like the same player on the ice at times. Both are bigger guys with long strides, great poise and awareness with Draisaitl obviously being the better passer and Maksimov being the better pure shooter. Like Draisaitl, Maksimov needs to continue to work on moving his feet and his lateral movement. He has certainly gotten bigger and stronger since last year and will continue to need to do so to make at the next level. He plays a heady, strong possession game with a threat to shoot at anytime. He also plays a feisty game at times not afraid to throw a hit and can be a puckhound on the forecheck. However, that also means stylistically he compares to another current Oiler – Anton Slepyshev who has similar skills but can’t seem to put it together consistently enough at the NHL level yet.
I’m not sure where Maksimov will ultimately end up as an NHLer (likely somewhere in between) but for now the sky’s the limit as he continues to grow and develop. It helps he’s going to get likely 4 years of OHL experience before making the jump to Pro hockey as opposed to Anton who came straight from Russia as a 21 year old and is still adapting to the North American style.
Here are highlights from the 2017 season of #13 Maksimov in Niagara:
Maksimov has the potential to be a top line FW in the NHL whether he ends up getting there is still up for debate. One thing is for sure, it appears he is in the perfect organization as he possesses “tools” that are sorely lacking in Edmonton right now. He already possesses an elite NHL caliber shot and has the smarts, vision and poise to succeed. What will separate him from being a Top six guy as opposed to a fringe NHLer like so many other young players will be consistency, determination and how well his skating ability continues to improve. With his unbelievable one-timer I project him as a LW in the NHL (plus most Russians play on their off-wing). The majority of his goals in the OHL do come from that left side. He was outstanding in the Prospect camp this past summer and while he likely won’t see NHL duty till 2019-2020, it is not out of the realm of possibility that another strong camp this summer earns him a 9 game audition. You slot him in Letestu’s spot on the PP it would be hard to take him off of it as he shoots first and asks questions later. With Yamamoto and Puljujarvi likely ahead of him in the RW pecking order in the organization all the more reason to groom him as a LW. “Maksi” already has the best shot of any forward in the organization which will always give him an advantage compared to other Oiler prospects his age. Do not sleep on this prospect his ceiling is huge.
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