He was a restricted free agent, and agent Mark Gandler was kicking the tires on other teams to see if there was an offer sheet (or threat of one) that could spring the forward out of the ‘Peg. At the NHL Draft in New Jersey, there were rumors swirling that Burmistrov was headed for the KHL – including a report that he was going to sign with his hometown team Ak Bars for two years.
Said GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, via the Winnipeg Sun:
"I guess if it's a choice of his that he does want to go play in Russia, I can't compete with that. But we'll continue to negotiate and we'll continue to see how it goes from that point on."
Well, from this point until 2015, Burmistrov has a KHL contract.
Igor Eronko reports that Burmistrov signed a 2-year deal with Ak Bars, as the 21-year-old center departs after three NHL seasons. He was selected No. 8 overall in the 2010 NHL Draft by the Atlanta Thrashers, ahead of players like Mikael Granlund, Cam Fowler and Vladimir Tarasenko.
Said Cheveldayoff, in a statement:
“Through our conversations and correspondence with Alex and his agent, it became apparent Alex had a desire to continue his development as a young player in the KHL. He remains a very talented player within the Jets organization and we will continue to monitor his progress and development going forward.”
Ak Bars was after Burmistrov in 2012 as well, reaching out to him last April. His agent denied having spoken to the team.
Burmistrov never found his offensive stride in the NHL, posted 13 goals in 76 games in his sophomore season and then seeing those numbers plummet last year for the Jets – his 0.23 points per game average was lower than his numbers as a rookie in Atlanta.
His unfulfilled potential speaks directly to two factors: That he's undersized and easy to knock off the puck, and that he was rushed to the NHL rather than being allowed to develop more, say, in the OHL. He didn’t have the consistency to remain in a top six role with the Jets this season.
He was frustrated. They were frustrated. And now he's gone for the next two years.
The Jets retain his NHL rights, which is a good thing: When Burmistrov showed flashes of his offensive potential, they were brilliant. Maybe two years in the KHL are what he needs. But two years without Burmistrov is not what Winnipeg needed.
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