After spending the last three seasons in North America, mostly in the ECHL, Maxim Kitsyn decided to end his overseas career to sign back at home in Russia. Kitsyn, 24, signed with KHL franchise Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod, as the team’s official site announced. The Novokuznets, Russia, native was acquired by the Torpedo during the 2012-13 campaign, where he failed to contribute offensively, scoring no points in eight games, and being reassigned to Torpedo VHL affiliate, HK Sarov. The team retained his KHL rights after the forward was signed to an ELC by the Kings on July 2013. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but he probably signed a one-year deal.
The peak of Kitsyn’s career was probably at the 2011 WJC in Buffalo, where he helped Team Russia get home with a gold medal, after a dramatic 5-3 win over Team Canada in the finals. He also played half a season in the OHL with the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors, where he reached the Memorial Cup stage.
Kitsyn was a sixth round pick for the Kings at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. The forward, who never lived up to the expectations, had decent numbers in the ECHL, scoring 128 points in 155 regular season games. He had a good 2015-16 season, with 26 goals and 55 points in the regular season, being a top scorer and an alternate captain for the Monarchs, but he played only two games in the AHL. At this point, his return to Russia is nothing but surprising.
Torpedo has allegedly run into financial problems recently, and some of the top-paid players may leave the team. This may give players like Kitsyn more space next year, as the team will try to repeat last season’s successes, where they defeated Finnish side Jokerit Helsinki 4-2 in a hot playoff series, but were defeated 4-1 by CSKA Moscow in the next round.
A professional hockey writer and translator. Loves Russian culture, language, and hockey. Reachable on twitter @AlexSerenRosso