The Edmonton Oilers chose to add to their depth, signing prospect Kirill Maksimov to a three-year entry-level contract Thursday.
Makismov was taken in the fifth round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, and since becoming an NHL prospect, he has continued to show a lot of potential over this past year and has proven his worth to the Oilers organization.
Prior to being drafted, Maksimov played a combined 66 games with the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit and Niagara IceDogs, registering 21 goals and 38 points through the 2016-17 campaign. He showed a lot of scoring prowess, especially after being traded to Niagara during the regular season. The 18-year-old followed up his solid year with four goals in four playoff games with the IceDogs.
This season, he has played a much bigger role with Niagara and upped his game significantly. In 60 games so far, he has registered 33 goals and 74 points. He is second on the team in scoring behind Sam Miletic and is one of Niagara’s most dangerous forwards.
Due to his over a point-per-game production and goal-scoring prowess, it’s not hard to see why the Oilers decided to lock him up with an ELC now. With this deal, he has basically agreed to remain in North America to pursue a pro career, as he cannot sign in the KHL until after the 2020-21 season.
Maksimov, who was born in Canada but is also of Russian descent, has gone from being a solid depth-scorer to developing his game to the point where he has put himself on the radar as one of the top up-and-coming goal-scorers.
What Maksimov Can Bring to Edmonton
As the Oilers continue to evaluate their need for depth on their offensive lines, Maksimov is a solid first step. He will more than likely see one more year in juniors before joining the Oilers or their AHL affiliate in Bakersfield, but should immediately provide depth and reassurance.
Maksimov plays on the left wing but is right-handed, so he can play on either side of the puck, increasing his versatility. Not only that, but he has speed, skating ability and a strong shot, as well as playmaking abilities that make him a prospective top-six forward, as well as someone who can be flexible and fit in pretty much anywhere on the forward lines.
The 6-foot-2, 193-pound winger can also play a physical game and use his size to his advantage when it comes to fighting for the puck and winning battles along the boards. He can also take a hit and is able to protect the puck well.
Overall, he has emerged as a top prospect for Edmonton, and despite being chosen in the later rounds of the draft, he, like fellow prospect Ethan Bear, has taken a tremendous step forward, putting in a lot of effort and expanding on his ability that will likely propel him to the NHL sooner rather than later. And, with Maksimov, the Oilers will add more organization depth to one of the weaker areas of their roster.
Sammi Silber covers the Capitals beat for The Hockey Writers and is an NHL contributor with Sporting News. She has also contributed to USA TODAY College, Huffington Post, FanSided and the Nation Network. Silber has written four books and recently worked on graphics for the film, The California Golden Seals Movie.