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The Copper and Blue 2021 Top 25 Under 25: #23 Maxim Denezhkin

The 2019 seventh rounder is looking to finally stick on a KHL roster

The Edmonton Oilers do not have a great history when it comes to seventh-round draft picks, but that is hardly a unique thing in the NHL. The draft is the ultimate crap-shoot and just like the tables in Vegas, there is potential to win big with every selection. The Oilers are hoping the long bet they made on Maxim Denezhkin with their 193rd pick in 2019 does just that.

Early returns aren’t too promising, but let’s see how the C&B staff ranked the Russian forward compared to readers.

2021 C&B Staff Rank 2021 C&B Reader rank
23 25

When Denezhkin was drafted he was viewed as a versatile forward who could put up a decent amount of points on the top Russian junior team. He was expected to eventually make the jump to the KHL to play for Locomotiv Yaroslav but, for whatever reason, he has only managed to appear in a measly two games with the big club.

He has spent the majority of his time playing in the MHL, Russia’s equivalent to the CHL, and just made the jump to the professional this past season playing for Buran Voronezh of the VHL. His professional debut wasn’t too bad by any stretch. In 34 games he put up 22 points which was good enough for second on his team.

From those highlights, he was able to show off some impressive passing plays and solid improvement in his game after a few shaky years in junior. Other than that, there is not a whole lot of information available about the player. He remains an unknown commodity for much of the fanbase and has mostly faded into obscurity after a few years of MHL action.

The only reason he ranks as high as he does on this list is due to the sudden spike of production in his first professional season. The hope is that he can eventually make that permanent jump to the KHL this coming season where he can show how he competes against top-end talent but, until then, there is a lot of question marks swirling around Denezkhin’s future with the organization.

The Oilers do hold the rights to Denezkhin for the foreseeable future and should be keeping a close eye on him as he continues his development. The bar seems to be high as Ken Holland recently let Matej Blumel walk away from the team after many thought he showed promise in the Czech league.

At this point, it is clear that the Oilers took a long-term gamble on Denezkhin. His development has been slower than other Russian prospects the Oilers have taken in recent memory. If he can finally realize his potential and put it together at the KHL in the next season or two there might be hope for him yet.