Alexander Burmistrov is in contract talks with the Winnipeg Jets and seems set to return to the NHL next season. This is good news for the Jets, even though it is thought that Burmistrov never lived up to his offensive potential when he was in the NHL between the ages of 18 and 21. Not factoring in any offensive growth, Burmistrov will be a big part of the Jets next season.
First of all, Burmistrov was producing at the rate of a third line right wing or a third line centre at even-strength. He scores decently at even-strength, but the lack of power play time really eats into his point totals. Burmistrov can help the Jets, especially if he can play right wing alongside Adam Lowry on the third line. Even though he is a skilled player, Burmistrov is the perfect player for the third line.
Burmistrov's skill is his biggest asset because even if he is not producing, he is still able to contribute to the success of a team. His puckhandling skill should benefit from Paul Maurice's insistence that zone entries and exits are with the puck instead of chip and chase. There is some hard evidence that controlled entries help lead to more shots on goal, but there is now an assumption that exiting the defensive zone with control is equally, if not more important because it allows for the team to reset and defend again if needed. Burmistrov's skill level makes him a prime candidate to be good at these skills and should help the Jets in that department.
Where should Burmistrov play? He should a least start on a line with Adam Lowry, preferably at the right-wing position. Burmistrov has experience playing wing in the past and if he can be successful there in his return to the NHL, one hole will be filled for the Jets internally. There is also the hope the Burmistrov will be signed for around $1.5-$2 millions a season for two or three years, guaranteeing that he will be a restricted free-agent at the end of his deal and he will have arbitration rights.
Burmistrov could also be used on the penalty kill and may be able to help ease the burden on older players like Andrew Ladd by taking the harder penalty killing minutes and letting Ladd feast on tired power play units at the end of a power play. Burmistrov is smart and defensively sound. He has the skill-set of good penalty killer. He was used there under Claude Noel. There is little reason to believe that Maurice fails to use him on the penalty kill and that could pay off over the course of a season.
If anyone thinks Alexander Burmistrov will solve the Jets problems, they are sorely mistaken. He will be able to help the Jets, even if it is only from the third line and that is what they need right now. The Jets will also have roles such as Michael Frolik's and Drew Stafford's to fill this off-season, so getting a multi-faceted player who should fit into the Jets system seamlessly while filling one of those needs is great.