With today's Ontario Hockey League trade deadline looming, the Saginaw Spirit have made more last minute moves, earlier trading second year forward Kirill Maksimov to the Niagara Ice Dogs in exchange for former 2015 first round pick (13 overall, 2015) defenseman Hayden Davis. The Spirit also announced the trade of second year defenseman Robert Proner to the Barrie Colts in exchange for a fifth round pick in 2018.
Maksimov is a 6-foot-2 190-pound forward originally from Moskva, Russia who became eligible for the 2015 OHL Priority Selection draft because he had moved to Ontario to play youth hockey in the Toronto Jr. Canadiens AAA program.
After a 21-point rookie year (6-goals, 15-assists) through 54 games, Maksimov has followed up with 16-points this season (6-goals, 10-assists) through 37 games.
Maksimov was the first of two trades Spirit GM Dave Drinkill worked out in the final hours of the OHL trade deadline. Drinkill was under some pressure to find a '99 or 2000 born defenseman after Robert Proner decided to leave the team back in early December, asking to be traded.
Drinkill asked Proner to stick it out with the team at least until the trade deadline in order for him to shop Proner to other teams, who would then have a chance to take a look at the 6-foot-2, 212-pound defenseman and maybe make a deal.
Drinkill, in the interest of wanting to do what's best for Proner and his career made, what looked like a lop-sided trade with Barrie, however, he also moved Maksimov in order to find a '99 to 2000 born defenseman to replace Proner and he feels confident they found that in Hayden Davis.
“Robert actually left our team in early December, he had went home and asked for a trade,” Drinkill said. “We asked him to stick around here, and we will try to find an opportunity for him but he thought it was best for him to go home and wait for the trade, and that made it very tough to move him because other teams didn't get a chance to see him play. Again, we just wanted to do what's best for Robert and his career and give him the best opportunity and as of the deadline, there wasn't a lot of opportunities for him. Barrie came in at the last minute and said they'd give up a draft pick for him to help further his career, and I'm not going to hold him back and hold his family back, so we granted that wish for him.”
So, the Spirit get Hayden Davis, a 6-foot-2, 194-pound defenseman from the Niagara Ice Dogs with a booming right-hand shot from the point. Davis was very highly touted prior to being selected by Niagara with the 13th overall pick in the 2015 OHL priority selection draft, however, he found himself lost in the mix with Niagara's talented group of NHL quality defensemen last season.
Davis did not see the amount of ice time he might have needed to develop properly, but Drinkill has had his eye on him for a long time and knows Davis has the potential to be great. Drinkill sees him as a perfect fit with the other talented '99 and 2000 birth year players he's looking to build this program around.
“I think that was actually a good hockey trade for both teams, Drinkill said of getting Davis for Maksimov. “Bringing D.J. Busdeker in here about a month ago, it brought a lot of '99 forwards to our group, and if we're building around that group and the 2000's after a lot of our older guys have moved on after this year, we needed a young D-man to come in and help build around. We had Brock Hill and that was it from the 99 age group with Proner leaving our team. Hayden Davis was a 13 overall pick to Niagara, at one point, there was talk of him going 1, 2, or 3. He maybe slipped a little bit, last year Niagara had a very strong team filled with NHL drafted D, he didn't get the opportunity he needed and it might have hindered his development a little bit, but coming into this year he's played a lot and he's starting to develop, he's a smooth skating, mobile, defenseman who is 6-foot-2 who moves pucks well and I think is going to help us now, and he's going to help us big time going forward and I'm very very excited to get him.”
Proner, who was born in Presov, Slovakia but grew up in Oakville, ON (which is only an hour and a half from Barrie) leaves the Spirit with 5 career points (2-goals, 3-assists) and 31 penalty minutes in 32 games over the past two seasons with the Spirit.
Davis, a native of Hamilton, ON has 10-points (3-goals, 7-assists) and 54 penalty minutes through 37 games so far this year and is excited to join his new team against its rivals the Flint Firebirds tonight at the Dow Event Center.
“It's an exciting time for sure, it was an exciting day and there's a lot of emotions going through my mind obviously,” Davis said as he walked through the doors with his bag slung over his shoulder and sticks in tow. “I'm a young kid and I'm just starting out my career so it's really the first time I've really had this experience. I'm excited for the opportunity and just thankful that the team here is going to give me a chance.”
Davis will be wearing the No. 21 sweater tonight for the Spirit when they host the Firebirds in another I-75 Divide Cup Series matchup set for 7:05 at the Dow Event Center tonight.