Maksim Sushko is set to make his NHL debut Thursday when the Flyers take on the New York Rangers. It’s been a long journey for the 22 year old, Brest Belarus native who was drafted in 2017 in the fourth round pick number 107.
He first came onto the scene in the hockey world in 2016-17. With the Owen Sound Attack in the OHL, Sushko skated in 54 games and recorded 17 goals and 15 assists. That earned him a trip to play in the World Junior Championship for his home country Belarus. A short trip, he appeared in five games and recorded one goal in the tournament.
It was enough to impress the eyes, however, head coach Dave Lewis, along with assistant coaches, Sergei Pushkov and Vyacheslav Gusov. He then competed for his home country again, this time for the World Cup.
He was joined by the likes of goaltender Ivan Kulbakov, who spent time with the Cleveland Monsters and Utica Comets before wrapping up his North America tour with the Quad City Mallards and the Kalamazoo Wings. Kulbakov now plays for the Izhstal Izhevsk in the VHL (Vysshaya Hokkeinaya Liga) in Russia. He also was on loan in the KHL this season with HK Sochi.
Defenseman Roman Dyukov, who was under the radar of the Calgary Flames organization, spent one season in North America with the ECHL’s Adirondack Thunder along side Stepan Falkovsky, who also spent time in the AHL with the Ontario Reign and Iowa Wild. He was teammates with Dyukov in Adirondack before two more stops in the ECHL with the Manchester Monarchs and Allen Americans. Falkovsky and Sushko reunited this summer when Sushko played for the Dinamo Minsk. Rounding out this impressive group is current New Jersey Devil Yegor Sharangovich.
Sushko, after those experiences, returned for two more OHL seasons rwith the Owen Sound Attack. He also earned himself two more goes at the World Juniors and International play. He turned professional in North America as a 21 year old with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms last season.
It didn’t take long for the Flyers prospect to find his footing in the AHL. Playing against and along side players that he grew up watching in his third professional game, he notched his first professional goal against the Hershey Bears on October 12th, 2019z From there Sushko was determined to get better and better each day. His multiple goal and point game came just a few games after he first pro game in Charlotte.
I put him at number 10 in my top 14 Flyers prospects this season because you just knew that Sushko was going to be something special. He certainly was a dark horse pick to make the Taxi Squad, or better yet even play in an NHL game just two seasons in his professional career. But now he’s living out the dream, at least briefly.
Alain Vigneault spoke a bit about what he has seen from Sushko heading into this season.
Talk about big praise from the head coach. Big things are expected from the 22 year old as the Flyers return to play from their COVID outbreak.
Other Phantoms who played this season for the squad or Phantoms Alumni are: Connor Bunnaman, David Kase, Sam Morin and Andy Andreoff. Andreoff and Bunnaman were originally on the Taxi Squad to begin the season as Andreoff is making his season debut.
For Thursday’s game as of now: Nate Prosser and Carson Twarynski are the only ones from the Taxi Squad not in the lineup, However Prosser, according to AV just came off the COVID protocol list, and said he would not be available for tomorrow’s game. It is possible though that both could see Prosser, Friedman or Twarynski in the lineup on Sunday’s game against the Bruins on Lake Tahoe.