As the calendar turns to June and the Stanley Cup playoffs head down the stretch, the 2013 National Hockey League offseason begins to pick up, especially for the squads not in Stanley Cup contention, including the Winnipeg Jets.
The first major Jets news of the offseason were reports that restricted free agent forward Alexander Burmistrov does not plan on resigning with Winnipeg.
In the ensuing weeks since the initial report, there hasn’t been anything beyond minuscule speculation on what the Jets might do with their third-year forward.
From the outset in Winnipeg, Burmistrov did not mesh with the organization, the city or his coaching staff.
On the Jets first trip to Nashville in 2012, many of the former Thrashers were asked by some Thrasher now Jets fans who had traveled from Atlanta to see their former team about living in Winnipeg as they met the players who were heading inside Bridgestone Arena. One of the fans, a Winnipeg-Atlanta transplant asked Burmistrov where in the city he lived and if enjoyed it.
Burmistrov, unlike his other former Atlanta teammates, was nonchalant. He said the city was nice as any good employee of a pro sports franchise would, but compared to Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler’s responses, it was lethargic. To give Burmistrov the benefit of the doubt, English is his second language. He was a second-year pro at the time and may been overwhelmed with the fan’s greeting and question and just wanted to get inside the arena to get prepared for the game.
Fast forward back to the 2012-2013 season. During the lockout, Burmistrov was optioned to St. John’s in the AHL where he earned two goals and nine assists in 22 games for the Ice Caps–not the best numbers for an everyday NHLer spending time in the AHL because his entry-level contract allowed him to do so.
When 2013 NHL season began, Burmistrov was mostly relegated to the third and sometimes fourth line. He never saw much time among the top six forwards for the Jets besides on the man advantage in the latter portion of the season. He was also scratched for four straight games in the middle of March, right as the Jets were building momentum in their attempt to make the post season.
The Jets’ options
For starters, Cheveldayoff could test the trade waters for Burmistrov, especially with the draft rapidly approaching. The Edmonton Oilers haven’t ruled out trading out of the seventh overall selection. Winnipeg holds the 13th pick in the first round and with the uncertainty of resigning their 14 other free agents, half of which are unrestricted, the Jets may look to swap Burmistrov’s rights and their first rounder to move up six spots and grab a potential replacement for either Burmistrov or another potential free agent loss.
Winnipeg could try to woo Burmistrov by offering him a max deal. A sign and trade with the Oilers or another interested squad is plausible. The Jets could simply match any reasonable offer sheet Burmistrov gets, forcing him to stay with his original franchise. If Burmistrov refuses to report, he could be sent down, or leave for Europe, although his agent said he won’t go to Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League.
The 2013 entry draft is flooded with talent at every position not between pipes. If Winnipeg has the opportunity to get a better talent in this draft, they should hedge their future and take it, even if Burmistrov turns out to be a perennial all-star.