For a team that has a shaky at best history with Russian born players not named Fedor Tyutin (see: Nikolay Zherdev, Nikita Filatov), the Blue Jackets have one player looking to change that.
Maksim Mayorov, 22, is entering his fourth pro season with his best chance ever to make the team. After two pre-season games, he was tied for the league lead in points with 4 (2 goals, 2 assists). He's been a part of some pretty nice goals this pre-season and has played a big role in both of the team's wins.
But, it was another guy--a guy working hard just to make this team--who was the player I noticed the most. Maksim Mayorov played all-out every shift. He skated, he checked, he got on the scoresheet. Overall, though, it was an offensive onslaught the likes of which we haven't seen much in Columbus. I know, I know, it was pre-season. But it started with a bang.
Mayorov has been quietly, but very well, developed in the AHL, seeing a few games of NHL action each season. Let's not forget, in 2007 when the Jackets selected him 94th overall, he was rated as the 4th best European prospect. It's no secret he has skill, and it was just a matter of translating it to NHL success that likely plays into why he's been under the radar for so long.
Is this the year for Maksim? I think so. With the Jackets potentially looking to roll three scoring lines, his chance is better now than ever. He's been comfortable playing with everyone he's lined up with so far, and if he can really click with someone like Antoine Vermette, R.J. Umberger, or Matt Calvert, he could find a permanent home on the 2nd or 3rd line for the season opener.
Mayorov has a lot of upside, and we're really just beginning to see it in Columbus. He should have nothing to worry about if he continues to leave it all on the ice every shift.