Decision time for Alexander Burmistrov is but a week or so away now. After the Thrashers finish with their October 26 game with the New York Rangers, they’ll have played nine games so far in the 2010-11 season. Assuming last June’s eighth overall draft pick plays in all four games between now and then, Burmistrov will have used up all of his time before this season counts against his free agent status. If he plays in game number ten October 29 against Buffalo, then it’s as if he was here all season.
So, the question is…with apologies to The Clash…will Burmistrov stay or will he go?
Will Alex stay in Atlanta and play beyond the ninth game, or will he go back to the OHL and play with the Barrie Colts? Keep in mind here, he isn’t eligible to go to Chicago given the AHL age requirements. Burmistrov will celebrate just his 19th birthday this Thursday.
While Burmistrov has yet to collect his first NHL point, he has been a part in the high-successful fourth line along with Ben Eager and Chris Thorburn. He’s putting in fourteen and a half quality minutes per game, is a +2 overall and has shown serious improvement in his game each time out.
If you want to play the comparison game, the last time the Thrashers were faced with such a decision with a first round pick was just a year ago. Then it was Evander Kane. At this point in his young career he had already notched his first 2 goals…including a game-winner…and assists and was a +3 in after the first five games, averaging 13:35 TOI. In games six through nine he added another goal and assists as his ice time climbed to just over 15 minutes in those games.
Like Kane last year, Burmistrov has also won some points playing well on the PK unit, averaging 2:18 TOI while the team is shorthanded. Plus he has the ability/willingness to back-check very well.
The young rookie may still get out-muscled on some occasions, but he injects a great deal of speed and craftiness in this offense. He’s taken only one minor penalty, (interference), but has drawn multiple.
His work seems to have made an impression on coach Ramsay. Earlier in the week he told Chris Vivlamore, “In the Anaheim game, after we tied it, I put him out against [Corey] Perry, against [Ryan] Getzlaf and I put him out against [Joe] Thornton late in the San Jose game and he went out and won a little battle with this great big man. He has tremendous courage”.
If I had to venture a guess right now I would have to say if Burmistrov continues to play at the same level he has throughout preseason and the first five games, then he should win himself a full time gig in the Thrashers’ lineup. To me, his hustle, tenacity and ability to improve steadily has more than earned him the benefit of any doubt there may be between keeping him and sending him down.
Plus…how ya gonna split up arguably the best, most consistent line the Thrashers have skated out there so far, huh?
Where should Alexander Burmistrov find himself after nine games played in the NHL?
Total Voters: 216
Some may say Burmistrov would benefit more playing top-line minus in the OHL as opposed to lower-line minutes in the NHL. But if he’s shown he can hold his own at this level, how much good would all that extra ice time down there honestly do him.
Seriously, I think he’s proved all he can in the juniors.
Concerned his size and inexperience could lead to injury at this level? OK, so noted and logged. However, I did some intense, extensive, exhausting, research recently and found that injuries also occur in the juniors.
Feel free to use that exclusive bit of info as you wish, wherever you may.
The only real issue that might come with deciding to keep Alex around past next week is what may happen upon the return of Patrice Cormier, who is currently nursing a broken foot suffered in training camp while blocking a shot. With fourteen forwards already on the squad, and the team’s stated desire to eventually trim back to just one extra forward and defenseman for healthy scratches, someone would have to be dropped to make room for Cormier.
Just prior to the season, speculation was that Alexander would fill his place on the roster, getting his nine-game look-see, and then head to Barrie when Cormier was cleared to play. But that logic seems to have been skewed just a bit with the way Burmistrov has responded to his opportunity.
If indeed Burmistrov is still around when Cormier is healthy enough to return, the decision could then become whether to send Cormier to the AHL or expand the forward roster back to 14. If Dudley and Co. choose the latter, I would assume Nigel Dawes could loose some games to last winter’s captain of Canada’s world junior squad, providing some company in the press box for Eric Boulton. Or simply replacing him there.
Lastly, and on a side note, Patrice Cormier seems to be clear of his legal issues following last winter’s on-ice hit from behind on Michael Tam. On Tuesday he entered a guilty plea to a charge of assault causing bodily harm. He then received an unconditional discharge from the courts.
Prior to the untimely foot injury last month, that was the only real cloud hovering over Cormier. Now, it could be Burmistrov “hovering around” Thrasherville past next week that may keep him from an NHL roster spot.