Name: Max Burkholder
Team: Chaska-Chanhassen Bantam AA
Date of Birth: 8/8/2003
Hometown: Chaska, Minnesota
Height/Weight: 5’7” 160 pounds
2018-2019 Stats as of 12/30/2018: 30 Games played, 11 Goals, 49 Assists, 60 Points
Eligible for 2021 NHL Draft
Max Burkholder is a smooth skating two-way defenseman, who despite his smaller size, is not afraid to play the body. The 15-year-old Chaska, Minnesota native is currently playing with Chaska-Chanhassen Bantam AA and was selected by the Portland Winterhawks in the tenth round of the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft. Burkholder attended the Winterhawks’ training camp in August and impressed as one of the youngest defensemen on the ice.
Max was probably one of the smallest players on the ice, but you couldn’t tell by how he played the game. During the championship game of the inter-squad tournament, Max put a hit on a larger winger. The hit separated the player from the puck, he then made a crisp outlet pass to the forward leading to a goal.
In addition to his physicality, I’ve been impressed with Max’s first three strides. His acceleration helps him win races to pucks in the corner as well as on the breakout. On the breakout Max has the vision to provide an outlet pass to a forward, but also has the ability to carry the puck when required. As Max adds additional size and strength he will be able to better clear the front of the net. His positioning and stick placement allows him to get the job done though.
Max Burkholder Q+A Interview
I recently interviewed Burkholder regarding his season, his time away from the rink, and his goals moving forward:
Q: Introduce yourself, describe yourself as a player and person:
A: I’m Max Burkholder. On the ice I’m a two-way defenseman that tries to be good in the defensive zone, but also good in the offensive zone. As a person I just try to be a leader every day and be the best person I can be.
Q: Away from hockey, how do you recharge? What else do you enjoy doing?
A: Away from hockey I like to hang out with friends and family. I also really enjoy playing pond hockey that’s what I like to do in the winter usually every week me and my buddies going out on the pond. Pond hockey is really common [in Minnesota] and we get pretty competitive out there, so that is fun.
Q: Is there a player or two you try to model your game after?
A: I think I look up to a lot of players, but one especially is Charlie McAvoy with Boston. I really like how he plays, and I try to model my game after him. There are also some players around here that are my age or a little older I try to model my game after. A kid from Eden Prairie, Luke Mittelstadt (younger brother of Buffalo Sabres forward Casey Mittelstadt). He plays a good game, and I think he is very successful. I try to model my game off him. Mike Koster for Chaska High School (Minnesota High School Hockey League), I like how he plays too. I try to look at the things he does and copy those.
Q: Can you describe your season so far?
A: Our team this year is really good, and we have a lot of good players. It started off as an up-and-down season, but currently we are in a tournament, Edina Invitational, and are 2-0. We are finally starting to play our game and get things going. Hopefully this is where our success starts to come.
Q: What is your role on this year’s team?
A: I play for Chaska-Chanhassen Bantam AA. My role on the team, I think I’m a leader and just try to lead by example; play my game. Right now I’m just playing defense. I have played forward in the past, but I’m sticking with defense right now and will the rest of the season.
Q: Can you speak more about your team’s schedule?
A: For the most part our schedule is playing teams around here within our district: Eden Prairie, Edina. We will also play other teams from all around the state. Recently we’ve played teams like Shattuck, Chicago Mission, Colorado Thunderbirds.
Q: How do you feel your team does playing teams not within your district?
A: Those teams I feel are a lot deeper. They have a really good lineup that is hard to play against and plays a different style of game. We got better towards the end of the tournament and were still adjusting to how they play. Definitely getting better playing against them. We play Shattuck at the end of the season too. Hopefully we get a few wins against them.
Q: How do you compare this season to previous seasons?
A: Two years ago, my pee-wee year, for Chaska-Chanhassen pee-wee AA, we had a really good roster. We didn’t really start the season out too good, kind of underrated. The last part of the season we won 26 games in a row. Thankfully we won the state championship and with a great group of guys; it was great. We will play around 60 games this year.
Q: Are there any older players you’ve played with over your hockey career who have helped you progress as a player?
A: I went to Breakaway Academy and there are a lot of great role models there. Like the guy from Chaska, Mike Koster, and guys like Clay Hanus from the Portland Winterhawks. Seeing how hard they came to school every day and worked on and off the ice was really encouraging. That stuck with me seeing how successful these guys are being; I know what it takes to get to the next level.
Q: Who would you say is the toughest player you’ve matched up against on the ice and why?
A: I’ve played against a lot from Canada. From Minnesota, probably a player like Brock Faber, who plays with the National Development Team. His skating ability and awareness on the ice is really hard to defend. You never really know what he is going to do with the puck.
Q: What do you feel are some of your best attributes on the ice?
A: I like to think I have really good hockey sense. I think the game really good, use my teammates, move the puck, get to open areas, and get the puck back. I just want to play my game and use my sense on the ice.
Q: Do you play often on the power play or penalty kill for your team?
A: I play a lot of power play and penalty kill. We only have four defensemen, so playing every other shift no matter what. Obviously I love it (the amount of ice time he receives), some games I get a little tired.
Q: What is an area you want to continue to develop as your season progresses?
A: I think I could develop all parts of my game to become better. I’m focusing on my shot. I think my shot could really improve to beat goalies at the next level.
Q: Do you have any goals or expectations for yourself this year?
A: I have a lot of expectations for myself, but obviously the main goal is to win the state championship. For my goal, is to be one of the top players in the state. Obviously to get a lot of points, but that doesn’t matter as long as the team is winning and having a good team with the team winning games. Getting to the state championship around March 1st.
Coach’s Quote: “Max is a smooth skating, smart defenseman, not overly big, but really skilled. We are going to watch his development this year to see where he is. Certainly with any of the those American players the college factor is one thing. What we do is try to determine if they are ready to play, are they ready and we can offer them a contract if we have a spot for them.” – Mike Johnston (Head Coach/General Manager of Portland Winterhawks)