Previous Rank: 3
Some may question why Alexander Burmistrov is this high in the list. Well, how many of the players before on this list can say they were an above average defensive player while without being a black hole offensively at the age of 19? None (although Morrissey has a shot).
While Corsi is not everything, Alexander Burmistrov currently holds the Jets 2.0 best Open Play Corsi% after the super line of Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little, and Michael Frolik. Burmistrov accomplished this without being sheltered from top six line matching. Most of his line mates scored points at higher rates with him than without, most of his line mates outscored their opponents with him than without, and nearly every single one of his line mates out possessed their opponents with him than without. His scoring rates were within the norm for a second line player at average with any of Ladd, Little, Wheeler, Kane, Antropov, and Wellwood, but he suffered severely when with others like Tangradi, Slater, Thorburn, Glass, Santorelli, Ponikarovsky, Jokinen, etc.
Now, don't get us wrong... Burmistrov was not without fault by any means. The events unfolded as they did. However, these extraordinary results for an 19 and 20 year old indicate that Burmistrov had value.
Last season Burmistrov played as a top line centre for a playoff team in the second best men's league in the world. Burmistrov's 37 points may seem low, but keep in mind that the KHL is not a high scoring league (0.950-0.930 save percentage is not uncommon in the KHL). Burmistrov's 37 points were top on his team, with the next best forwards at 34 and 29. His point totals placed Burmistrov 23rd in the league, 10th for centres. For those under 25 years old, Burmistrov placed fifth overall, and he was third in the KHL for those currently protected by NHL hockey teams.
Burmistrov has one more year left of his two-year KHL contract. There was news that Burmistrov did have discussions with the Jets in regards to buying out his own second year to return to the NHL, but this came to nothing. Later, Burmistrov announced in an interview that he would likely be returning to the NHL for 2015-16, and which team that would be under would be dependent on the Jets management.
At the bottom, you will find three links to three very good articles on Burmistrov, his contributions, and his possible return.
AIH Authors' Thoughts:
KHL or no, Bumistrov remains a high skill, high upside prospect. He has incredible hands, strong skating and above average defensive acumen. His scoring remains a bit of a question mark, but there is still room for growth there too as most players peak near 25 years of age. Burmi could be a long run middle six player in the NHL, hopefully that happens in Winnipeg.
The Burmistrov situation is the centrepiece of Jets 2.0 mismanagement. A young (only a year older than Schiefele!!!) player who more than held his own in the NHL when he should have been in junior, Burmi is an excellent possession player who makes players around him better. Sure, his offence wasn’t where it needed to be, but Scheifele didn’t score next to Halischuk and other bottom-6 plugs either. Burmi is a talented middle-six forward who can push to play forward, but Chevy and co. chose Claude Noel over him (only to fire the 3-piece suit 5 months later). Nice choice.
While I doubt that Burmi returns to the Jets in any capacity (#thankschevy), he’s still a talent that will have value around the league when he returns. But could you imagine this lineup with Burmi on the 3rd-line? Sigh...
(Man... Ryan is angry!!)
I have been a constant defender of Burmistrov, which has led many to think I'm a huge Burmistrov fan. To be honest, I'm not actually (ironically, my main jersey is Wheeler; a poor Corsi player)... but, I do think he was extremely undervalued in how he contributed to making the Jets a better team.
I am however a huge fan of the Jets and want the best for the team. From the numbers and my eyes, the Jets best scenario would be a Burmistrov willing to work with the team and a team willing to place Burmistrov in situations best served for both. I don't believe in the past either happened.
I think Alexander Burmistrov takes a lot of unwarranted criticism from Jets fans. With three seasons at a 20-30 point pace - almost all at even strength - despite tantalizing hands and talent, I think fans expected more production out of Burmistrov and wanted him to produce like a top-line forward. A brief stint of lackluster scoring in the AHL certainly didn't help his cause. Love him or hate him though, the fact of the matter is that Burmistrov was an effective middle six forward - a player who pushed the play in the right direction, generally made his line mates better, and still had plenty of room to grow - in the NHL at just 20 years old, and that doesn't come around often.
After a year with Kazan in the KHL, Burmistrov has spoken openly about his desire to return to the NHL. He may (and probably will) never turn into the high-scoring forward that Jets fans hope for, but the Jets could have a second chance to secure a solid middle six forward that's still only 22 years old, can help the team both now and in the future, and will be a restricted free agent for years to come. Second chances don't come around often, and I think the Jets would be wise to seize this one.
What remains of his potential? Will he even come back? Most Jets fans hope so especially with Maurice at the helm. Even if his offensive game never turns around, he's still a useful middle 6 player.
Further to the big mistake: Where and why the eye-test sometimes fails us
2013 Top 25 Under 25: Alexander Burmistrov