After spending the past ten seasons on a variety of different teams in the KHL, Anton Burdasov has decided to take a crack at trying to land his dream gig…playing in the NHL. Though the hope of securing a one-way deal from an organization did not come to fruition, the Russian winger signed a PTO with the Edmonton Oilers earlier this week. A surprise to some but from the player’s perspective, it was likely an easy decision to make.
The combination of opportunity and open roster spots must have made Edmonton an easy choice. Yes, the Oilers already have a ton of bodies in camp vying for said openings but most seem better suited as bottom-six pieces. Burdasov could be an ideal fit as a “middle-six” forward if everything were to go according to plan. Not surprisingly, his agent Ritch Winter and general manager Ken Holland were able to work something out.
Burdasov Is Worth the Look
Having a guy arrive in the middle of training camp is never an ideal situation for the player. Add to that the fact Burdasov has zero North American experience on his resume and you can bet this won’t be easy. However, on a team that is searching for complimentary wingers to employ inside the Oilers top nine, and preferably top six, the 28-year-old might fit the bill perfectly.
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Burdasov has never been a big goal scorer in the KHL but according to what Sport-Express’ hockey writer Igor Eronko told Sportnet’s Mark Spector, “his biggest weapon is a wrist-shot. In that, he could be compared to Tarasenko. It’s really lethal”. One would think said comparison is a stretch and yet Winter shared the following with Oilers NOW host and radio-colour man Bob Stauffer on Wednesday’s show:
“I talked to Ben Scrivens and in his mind, having played with him and practiced against him, that he has a prolific shot. He would put him not quite in the Top Ten shooters in the NHL but not much further behind that. He said he is one of the top shooters that he’s ever faced.”
Now, we can take that for what it’s worth, as it’s coming directly from the player’s agent but to his credit, Winter was upfront about his own “intel” on the player. He said right out of the gate he didn’t know much about him, added Scrivens comments into the equation and mentioned the player is likely to have challenges adjusting his game to the smaller ice surface.
Burdasov Will Need to Adapt
In my mind, that sounds less like an agent laying it on thick about his client and more like a guy giving an honest assessment to a question he was asked. For good measure, he also threw in the potential of playing with some “decent centers” made Edmonton an attractive option, which only further cemented my original take on the signing. A left-handed shooting right-winger with an elite-level caliber shot, where do the Oilers sign?
By the sounds of it, Burdasov isn’t the greatest of skaters but is far from an anchor. Meaning if he can make the cut, playing alongside the likes of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins would not be out of the question. Hence, giving Dave Tippett another option to use on the wing inside the Oilers top six and that in itself can be viewed as nothing other than a positive. The more competition, the better.
Heading into last night’s game against the Vancouver Canucks, it appeared as if Burdasov would be making his debut tonight against the Calgary Flames. That would leave the talented winger three additional games to make an impact and grab a spot in this lineup. Time is of the essence and if he hopes of having any shot of sticking around, he will have to hit the ground running.
When listening to both Holland and Tippett, when realizes this is by no means a done deal. However, if Anton Burdasov shows enough over the next week to ten days, don’t be surprised to see him in the Edmonton Oilers opening night lineup. The holes on this roster are obvious and a lack of scoring depth up front could once again come back to haunt this group. In other words, show us something and the opportunity is yours.
Rob Soria is the Author of Connor McDavid: Hockey’s Next Great One. He has chronicled the Orange and Blue since creating his Oil Drop blog in 2011 and has also had his writings featured over at HometownHockey.ca and Vavel USA, where he has covered the NHL, MLB and ATP Tour. Rob was born, raised and still resides in Edmonton, Alberta and can be reached via twitter @Oil_Drop.