If the Winnipeg Jets had any plans on getting Alex Burmistrov back into their lineup next season, they can put those on ice. The talented 22-year-old Russian, who remains property of the Jets as a restricted free agent, chose to head to Russia last season as he struggled to fit in with then-Jets coach Claude Noel's lineup.
Noel is gone and Paul Maurice is running things now, but according to Burmistrov's agent, that won't matter. Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun got a hold of Yuri Nikolaev to find out what the former No. 8 overall pick's status was:
Burmistrov was such a promising prospect. He played a year of junior hockey in the OHL with the Barrie Colts to show he was serious about playing pro in North America. The Atlanta Thrashers picked him ahead of current NHL regulars like Cam Fowler, Vladimir Tarasenko, Charlie Coyle and Nick Bjugstad.
He never really made much of an impact in parts of three NHL seasons, but at just 22 years old, Burmistrov's potential remains high for him to turn into something. The native of Kazan, Russia, posted 58 points in 194 career NHL games between the Thrashers and re-branded Jets.
If he gets another year in the KHL and can build some confidence before making a return to Winnipeg, it might actually be a good thing for the team. That's two free years of development. The chances are still extremely high that they'll never see him again, though.
Burmistrov posted 37 points in 54 games for Ak-Bars Kazan last season. He also played in the most recent World Championship, helping Russia win gold while playing a rather minimal role with just one goal in 10 games.
It's unclear if he'll ever be much of an impact player at the NHL level, but there's still time to find out. That said, it may be a risk to put the money into giving that a shot, knowing that he'd always be a KHL flight risk. The Jets should tread carefully here, but there's plenty of reasons for the club to continue to monitor their former first-round pick.