The Winnipeg Jets have now lost as many players since free agency opened as they have signed.
Jets center Alex Burmistrov was a restricted free agent and in need of a new contract. He got one, just not from Winnipeg or anybody else in the NHL. Instead, he has signed with Ak Bars of the KHL for two seasons, according to Igor Eronko. The Jets confirmed Burmistrov is gone. GM Kevin Cheveldayoff released the following 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."
As Cheveldayoff notes, this isn't completely out of the blue. There had been rumors earlier this year about Burmistrov wanting to leave Winnipeg. He found his way out. The native of Kazan, Russia, will return to his hometown to play for Ak Bars, the team he played for before coming to the NHL.
Talk about a blow to the Jets. So far he has not shown himself to be worthy of the hype around him, but he's still only 21 years old. Two seasons ago as a 20-year-old, he had 13 goals and 15 assists. His production dipped this past season with four goals and six assists in 44 games.
From the beginning, it's been a rocky relationship between Burmistrov and the organization. He was originally selected by the Thrashers and spent one season in Atlanta but he never seemed to find a suitable ground with the franchise. After being the eighth overall selection in 2010, he was pressed into action before he was ready, and it just all seemed to go downhill from there.
Again, though, he's still very young. If he weren't interested in re-signing with the Jets, you'd think at the very least they would have gotten something for his rights from another NHL team. Instead, he's going to the KHL. Similar to the Alex Radulov situation, the Jets will retain Burmistrov's rights should he decide to come back to the NHL.
For those keeping score, the Jets still only have nine forwards signed on their NHL roster right now for next season. Burmistrov leaving cuts down their own in-house pool a little more, making their inactivity in free agency that much more confusing.