When it comes to prospects, people like to talk about the ‘buzz’ factor. Some guys have it, others just can’t seem to catch it.
Right now, the name Maxim Kitsyn is being spoken by nearly everybody who follows Canadian junior hockey.
Drafted by the LA Kings this past June, he’s generally referred to as power forward – a phrase that isn’t commonly used to describe Russian born players. Usually known more for their skill, scouts say Kitsyn is a good skater with speed, acceleration, balance and plenty of toughness.
Although some teams were leery of taking him because of his contract situation back home, the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors (OHL) scooped him up in the Import Draft this summer. While he’s yet to play for them just yet, we’ll have more on that situation later in the article.
His four goals led all players at last year’s Super Series – the annual six-game tournament pitting a team of Russian junior level all-stars in two games each against the QMJHL, OHL and CHL. He followed that up with three assists and many head turning plays at the World Junior Championships last winter.
More recently, just a week before heading back over to North America, he scored his first hat trick as a professional (for Metallurg Novokuznetsk in the KHL). His hot streak continued when he came out in game one of the Super Series and scored two goals, plus picked up an assist. Since then, he’s added another goal, an assist and scored in the shootout.
With the help of Team Russia’s translator we spoke with Kitsyn this afternoon as he prepared for tonight’s final game of the 2010 Super Series…
MM: You’re obviously having a strong tournament. Did you come into things with a little extra confidence after your performance in the series last year?
Which game has been the most fun to play in so far?
All five have been interesting and fun.
Which one has been the most difficult so far?
Last night because we were down 2-4 and then 3-6. We just made a happy come back. We had to hang in there and make a game out of things in the third period.
[note: In game five Russia beat the WHL in a shootout by a final score of 7-6...tied 6-6 after three periods they went straight to a shootout...Russia won the extra frame 3-1, with Kitsyn the only Russian player to not score...however, fellow Kings prospect Jordan Weal was the only WHL shooter to tally a goal...earlier, Weal had a power play goal at 8:40 of the third period]
With the win last night Russia has already secured the series win (3-1-1 in the first five games). This is the first time in the eight year history of the tournament that the CHL hasn’t been the winner. Did you guys set that as a goal prior to coming over or was the focus to just take one game at a time?
The whole coaching staff told us we were coming to Canada to win it.
You’ve played against several Kings prospects in the tournament (Nick Deslauriers, JF Berube, Tyler Toffoli, Linden Vey and Jordan Weal). Any thoughts on their performance?
I met most of them at the Kings summer camp in LA. All of them have looked good in this series. They are all very good players. They are all winners.
[note: several of those players talk more in-depth about playing against Kitsyn and the other Kings prospects in their recent MayorsManor interviews...links are provided at the end of this article]
Any thoughts about possibly playing against some of those same guys again at the World Junior Championships next month?
I will play the way my coaches instruct me to.
Mississauga has your rights. Will you be coming to North America to play in the OHL any time soon?
I would like to. They are working on the issue right now. It’s not so easy because I have a contract in Russia. But, I would like to.
After being drafted by the Kings and then attending camp with them here in Los Angeles, are you following them more closely this season?
I am following them and am happy to see them playing so well.
Fortunately, Kitsyn seems to be playing pretty well himself these days. He’ll get one more crack at the CHL tonight when Team Russia takes on the WHL All Stars in the sixth and final game of the 2010 Subway Super Series.
The action begins at 7pm PST. Click here to watch the free live video stream of the game.
Can Kitsyn put on one last spectacular performance?
Super Series OHL vs. Russia Report – Interview with Tyler Toffoli, Kings draft pick
Super Series Game 2 Preview w/ JF Berube – Kings goaltending prospect
Interview with QMJHL defenseman Nick Deslauriers – Kings draft pick