By Scott Billeck and Scott Taylor
Alexander Burmistrov of the Winnipeg Jets has signed a two year contract with AK Bars out of Kazan, Russia in the Kontinental Hockey League.
The Winnipeg Jets will retain his National Hockey League negotiation rights if Burmistrov chooses to return to the NHL one day.
Burmistrov was selected in the first round, eighth overall, in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by the Atlanta Thrashers.
He played in Kazan before coming to the Ontario Hockey League in the 2009-10 season, where he played for the Barrie Colts. Burmistrov was a point-per-game player in the OHL, putting up 22 goals and 43 assists in 62 games played. He then played 74 games in the final season in which the franchise was located in Atlanta. It was his NHL rookie and he had six goals and 20 points.
His best NHL season came in the Jets inaugural 2011-12 season when he posted 13 goals and 15 assists in 76 games played.
Last season for the Jets, Burmistrov struggled. He had four goals and six assists in 44 games in the lockout-shortened season and was a healthy scratch for the other four. He averaged 15 minutes and 38 seconds of ice time per game. In March and April, when the Jets were making an effort to reach the playoffs, he had one goal, two assists and was a minus-seven in his final 24 games of the season.
He’s the type of highly-skilled player that needs to play on one of the top two lines to be effective. He was never much of a contributor as a third-line checker. Next season, barring some catastrophic development, the first line will be Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler while the second line will be Mark Scheifele with Evander Kane and Devin Setoguchi. Having Burmistrov play in the KHL is probably a blessing for the Jets
Burmistrov had an uneasy relationship with Jets head coach Claude Noel and that led to rumours that he wanted out of Winnipeg after the 2013 season ended. Very few, if any, Jets insiders were surprised that he signed with AK Bars.
In 194 NHL games played, he has contributed 58 points.
The Jets released the follow statement regarding Burmistrov’s departure:
“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.”