As the National Hockey League Playoffs rage on, the Winnipeg Jets are planning for next season. And one of the decisions they will have to make is what to do with Alexander Burmistrov.
The smooth-skating Burmistrov, who the franchise drafted eighth overall in 2010, notched 13 goals and 15 assists this season skating mostly between Evander Kane and Kyle Wellwood. That was an improvement from last year when he scored six goals and 14 assists in two fewer games. But the lithe center (generously listed by the team's official Web site at 6-1, 180 pounds) appeared overmatched at times, leading some hockey watchers to wonder if the 20-year-old Burmistrov would benefit from a stint in the American Hockey League.
In a recent poll conducted by the Winnipeg Sun, more than 20% of fans believed Burmistrov could benefit from stay with the St. John's IceCaps, the Jets' successful AHL affiliate. The skilled Burmistrov no doubt would light up the AHL, but would it help him and the Jets in the long run?
I'm not so sure it would.
With a high hockey IQ and slick puck-handling skills, Burmistrov has the skills to succeed in the NHL. In his one season in the Ontario Hockey League (2009-10), he scored 22 goals and dished out 34 assists in 65 games. However, he's small by NHL standards. As this season wore on, Burmistrov showed a willingness to bang bodies, but he may have worn down as a result. He didn't score in his final 17 contests.
Burmistrov is an elite offensive talent. What he needs is a hardcore, off-season strength and conditioning program, not a trip to the AHL. A bigger Burmistrov could be a big-time player for the Jets, who desperately need his play-making talents next season and beyond. What do you think, Jets fans?
Adam Martini is a freelance sportswriter and supporter of all Winnipeg sports teams. He no longer dreads Winnipeg winters now that the Jets have returned to town. Follow Adam and the Jets on Twitter @PegCitySports.
- Ice Hockey
- Sports & Recreation
- Winnipeg Jets
- Alexander Burmistrov
- Ontario Hockey League
- American Hockey League