Listed at 6'2'' and 213 lbs., Maksim Mayorov may be the Blue Jackets most underrated prospect. He has both the size and skill to make a real impact at the NHL level. Two years ago when the draft was in Columbus, he was ranked the 4th best European prospect. Teams passed on him because they feared the lack of a transfer agreement with Russia.
Mike's recent post of his Top 20 CBJ Prospects got me thinking. He put Mayorov at #2, right behind the soon-to-be superstar Nikita Filatov. The question I asked myself, "why is no one talking about Maksim Mayorov?"
While many players from the 2007 draft are still on their way to the NHL, it includes top talent like Patrick Kane, Jake Voracek, James van Riemsdyk, Kyle Turris, Karl Alzner, and Sam Gagner. Mayorov was considered, while not an elite prospect, a solid first round pick. Instead, he slid to the 4th round. I don't ever remember any negative points about Mayorov leading up to the draft, aside from the fact that he is Russian, and there is no agreement in place between the NHL and KHL of Russia.
With every other GM afraid to pick him to that point, Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson knew it was too good to pass up, trading three 5th round picks to get a 4th round pick in order to select Mayorov.
He came over to America last summer at age 19, competed hard in training camp, and was ultimately sent to the Blue Jackets AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch. Since he was a European drafted prospect not currently playing in Juniors, he could have been sent to the CHL team that drafted his rights, the Brandon Wheat Kings. Which, at 19 years old, a junior league is a pretty suitable place for a kid.
However, he instead put up 16 goals and 16 assists for 32 points in 39 games with the Crunch. He was named the team's Rookie of the Year. He dressed for his first three NHL games with the Blue Jackets this year. By all accounts, he had a very respectable first year in North America, and should only be improving.
So, while I may be exaggerating when I say everyone has forgotten about him, the truth is, this is one player that could surprise and delight many Blue Jackets fans for years to come. Mayorov could prove to be a vital piece of the puzzle once he matures into an NHL regular.
Could this be our second big, strong, underrated and consistently improving young Russian that no one talks about?
(Hint: the first is 25-year-old Fedor Tyutin who had a career year in goals, assists, and points while playing in all 82 games.)