With our New Jersey Devils holding 9 picks in the upcoming 2016 NHL Draft, General Manager Ray Shero will be tasked with continuing to refill a middling prospect pool. So far in his Devils tenure, Shero has started to reconstruct the team with shrewd moves, such as trading for Kyle Palmieri and signing Nick Lappin to an entry level contract. Shero may wheel and deal some picks at the draft to alter our position or acquire players (similarly to Palmieri) but he may also be looking into players who have a low draft ranking, but might have some professional success. One of those players could be Kyle Maksimovich.
Who is Kyle Maksimovich?
Maksimovich was born on March 10, 1998 in Oakville, Ontario, Canada. He's a bit on the smaller side for a prospect as he only stands 5'9" tall and weighs a mere 170 pounds; certainly not the smallest prospect we have ever profiled here at AAtJ, but definitely one of the many that will need to put on some size in order to make an impact at the NHL level. Kyle started our in the Toronto Marlboros AAA system first playing for their bantam team and then the minor midget before being drafted to the Erie Otters of the OHL. Here are his full career stats so far courtesy of Elite Prospects:
The jump from his freshman season in Erie to his sophomore is why I feel fairly optimistic about Maksimovich; he went from a paltry 6 goals in 56 games to potting 27 in a mere 12 more this past season. His assist total also leaped from 18 to 44 resulting in Kyle going from under a half point per game player to an over a point per game player. His playoff scoring improved as well; while he finished with the same number of points as he did during his first season, he accomplished that total in 7 fewer games.
Where is Maksimovich ranked?
Out of all North American skaters, Kyle is ranked #103 by NHL.com, a small increase from his midterm ranking of #111.
What Others Say About Kyle Maksimovich
There's not as much out there as there is on some of the prospects expected to be drafted earlier, but Dominic Tiano of The OHL Writers profiled Kyle and had this to say about his game:
The first thing that will come to mind for the fandom is the size. Admittedly, at 5'9" Maksimovich is undersized. But despite the size, he has no fear of going into the corners to battle, nor does he shy away from going to the net. He also plays with a high level of energy and hard to contain.
At least at this level, Maksimovich overcomes his size with his speed and smarts. He has the ability to expose defences with his creativity and passing. When he gets into a position to shoot, it's usually on target and with a purpose.
Maksimovich's defensive game continues to be a work in progress, but he's coming along. He's getting into shooting and passing lands, blocks shots and kills penalties.
Quite a bit to absorb at once, but predominantly the only easy to come by scouting report on the way Kyle plays the game. I like the facts mentioned that he uses speed and smarts to overcome a lack of size, and you can never have too many smart, speedy players on your team/in the system. As I always say with players who get knocked for their defense as prospects, what better team to teach defense than the New Jersey Devils? With a bit of work and polish, Maksimovich seems as though he has the tools to one day reach the NHL.
A Little Video
It's not our usual YouTube video featuring a prospect, but instead a Vine clip showing a nice snipe by Maksimovich:
While we don't get the replays and different angles that a YouTube video would provide, we do see some nice hands and Kyle's ability to bury the pick here; his wrist shot ain't too bad either.
Continuing with today's Vine trend, our next clip shows Maksimovich, but he is only visible at the beginning of the clip as he makes a nice pass to teammate Brett Neumann for a goal.
Again, it's not much, but it shows Kyle's offensive prowess and his ability to make a nice, strong pass to a player in traffic.
An Opinion of Sorts
While left wing is not all that pressing of a need in New Jersey (at least compared to other positions) if the Devils were to take Kyle Maksimovich in either the 5th or 6th round, I think I would be pretty happy. He seems like he may have a higher ceiling that some expected and looks as though he is developing nicely in Erie.
The possibility exists that he is a product of the system rather than his skill doesn't seem to hold true; while he did have a huge jump in production, the OHL Writers profile made it seem more that he was buried on a deep team. Let's face it, Erie did still have Connor McDavid while Kyle was a rookie. It seems that with more time on the ice and more offensive responsibility, Maksimovich has thrived. I haven't read about too many of the players projected to go in the later rounds but I reiterate I would be happy if the Devils added Kyle to their prospect group during draft weekend.
Now I'd like to hear your thoughts on Kyle Maksimovich; do you want to see New Jersey draft him despite the fact that he plays a position where our pool is a bit deeper? Have you heard anything about this player that I have not mentioned here? Are there any particular aspects of his game that you like? Anything specific that you dislike? Leave any and all comments below and thank you as always for reading!