Maxim Kuznetsov was born March 24, 1977 in Pavlodor, Russia. The first round, 26th overall selection of the Detroit Red Wings in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft, Kuznetsov played for Dynamo Moscow in the CIS before making his North American debut in 1996.
After playing only two games with the Red Wings AHL affiliate in Adirondack during the 1996-97 season, the hulking defenceman suited up for his first full season in the AHL the following year. Kuznetsov went on to play parts of three seasons with Adirondack before joining the AHL's Cincinnati Mighty Ducks for the 1999-00 season.
A stay-at-home defenceman, Kuznetsov made his NHL debut with the Red Wings in 2000-01, appearing in 25 games while battling injuries throughout the coarse of the season. In 2001-02 Kuznetsov became an NHL regular. After only seven games in the minors, the Pavlodor native became a fixture on talented roster with a strong blueline. With the likes of Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Chelios, and Steve Duchesne to name a few, Kuznetsov was slowly groomed into the Detroit roster and was on hand as the Wings captured the 2002 Stanley Cup.
Coming off a Stanley Cup win the previous year, Kuznetsov was seeing more time with the Wings in 2002-03 before being acquired by the Los Angeles Kings trading deadline. Upon his arrival with the Kings organization, the hulking blueliner spent the majority of his playing time with the team's AHL affiliate in Manchester.