Among the current players, he is one of the oldest of the group having been drafted in 2010. Since then, though, Maxim Kitsyn‘s professional career has been marred with uncertainty. While he continues to improve offensively, it still remains to be seen whether the current Manchester Monarchs left-winger has topped his career or whether he will be ready for play at the AHL or even the NHL level.
I recently spoke with Monarchs head coach Richard Seeley about Kitsyn and his current role.
“Max has been playing well for us,” Seeley said. “And I see no reason for it to change down the stretch or in the playoffs.”
At 6-foot-2 and 192 pounds, Kitsyn certainly has the size to fit in with the Kings organization, but one of his biggest knocks dating back to his playing days in the KHL is that he has been inconsistent on a shift-by-shift basis. However, playing in the ECHL has let the Russian exude confidence which has led to a superb offensive touch.
In 57 games for the ECHL’s Ontario Reign last season, Kitsyn achieved career-highs in goals with 26 and points with 43 while escalating his penalty minute totals to 155 — a 128-point improvement from the previous season. His latter total could easily suggest that Kitsyn is prepared to take on the role of an enforcer, which may help his cause should he hope for a stint in the AHL and possibly the NHL.
Until then, the 24-year-old is impressing Coach Seeley with his work in Manchester.
“Max expects to be an impactful player for us every night, and has a great work ethic and attitude,” Seeley continued.
In 52 games this season, Kitsyn has 21 goals and 21 assists for the Monarchs. His 42 points thus far leaves him just one off his career high set last season. After a seven-game stint in the American League last year, however, the winger is already working on a return and hoping to stay a bit longer if the opportunity arises.
“The (Ontario) Reign have a strong hockey club, and if they run into injury troubles our job is to have players ready to step right in,” said Seeley. “Max is pushing himself here so if an opportunity arises his name is in that conversation. With that said we have a few players who are competing for that opportunity.”
Kitsyn’s play this season has not gone unnoticed — or unappreciated. Thanks to his contributions, the Monarchs are riding high in their maiden ECHL campaign as they currently lead the East Division with a 33-15-1-4 record. They have also 169 goals thus far; second behind the Missouri Mavericks’ mark of 176. But while Manchester’s success thus far has been the result of a collective effort, it is Kitsyn’s offensive prowess and experience that has steered the Monarchs in the right direction.
Still just 24, Kitsyn does have time on his side, but a shot at the next level needs to come sooner rather than later if a future within the organization is feasible. Whether Kitsyn stays or returns to Europe perhaps remains to be seen but as of now, the Manchester Monarchs are happy to have an asset of Kitsyn’s caliber on their side.