Alex Burmistrov: Should he stay or should he go?

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.

With a good showing in preseason and in the first five regular season games, Alexander Burmistrov has possibly jumped into a full-time roster spot with the Thrashers (AP Photo/John Amis)

With a good showing in preseason and in the first five regular season games, Alexander Burmistrov has possibly jumped into a full-time roster spot with the Thrashers (AP Photo/John Amis)

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?

  • Atlanta: He's more than proved himself (70%, 151 Votes)
  • Barrie: He still needs more time in the juniors (12%, 25 Votes)
  • Ask me sometime next week (18%, 40 Votes)

Total Voters: 216

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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.

89 comments Add your comment

Darren

October 19th, 2010
6:48 pm

While he’s not being used in the role in which we one day expect him to be, after some initial misgivings, I believe he has shown he can help the big club win now. I have seen a noticeable difference in Kane’s play this season over last; I can’t wait to see if/when Burmistrov is able to make a similar leap this year, given how he has already shown steady improvement.

Also, while we all know Dudley loves Cormier’s potential, the reality is Cormier needs game time at the pro level. He had but a minor taste in the AHL late last season. I think he needs some time there before he should be considered for the NHL.

gsukevin

October 19th, 2010
6:48 pm

The Thrashers need to make the playoffs and the Eager-Burmistrov-Thorburn line looks like a major part of winning hockey games. At times they have been the most effective line on the team. Burmistrov wins crucial faceoffs and is effective on the PK. The ice time he is getting in ATL is much more valuable for his development than the ice time he would get under lesser coaches and with lesser players. Keep Burmistrov with the big boys, he can hang with em.

Hoof Arted

October 19th, 2010
6:53 pm

Yeah, Alex can stay. Cormier may need some time working his way back into playing shape in Chicago, (though not long I would imagine).

If there needs to be a spot opened up for him later, maybe Boulton could be packaged up and dealt away for something decent in return.

Raymond Bowe

October 19th, 2010
7:01 pm

Just a quick note. The Barrie Colts play in the Ontario Hockey League.

RS

October 19th, 2010
7:09 pm

If they sent Burmistrov back to Barrie, he’s gone for the season. They can’t bring him back. These other guys could be sent to Chicago if need be and recalled due to injury, ineffectiveness, etc. I just think that Ramsay will look out for Alex and not let him get lost. Not to mention working with an NHL- level strength coach every day.

Waffleboy

October 19th, 2010
7:59 pm

Barring a disaster or injury, Burmistrov is here for the year. That said, if his play starts to struggle, you need to sit him for the good of the team. You can’t be worried about his development at the expense of the team’s success.

kracker

October 19th, 2010
8:01 pm

I voted wait until next weekbut y’all are convincing me Burma should stay. But if he goes to jr, I don’t wait past Saturday, go ahead and transfer him after Friday or Saturday’s game. Following this weekend, the Thrashers will need to practice w/o Burma on Sun-Tues to work on the reconfigured lines.

What is Cormier’s rehab status?

Zoomo

October 19th, 2010
8:03 pm

Burmy stays. He’s gotten pushed off the puck in the corners and has tried a few I’ll advised “too much fancy”. Other than that, he’s shown very good vision on the ice, a great work ethic and a running motor.

I like his versatility. Good on the PK and a guy who can be dangerous in short handed situations, good on a checking line, and I think he’ll be a very good assist man by year’s end based on his ability to see the ice and find his mates.

Nate

October 19th, 2010
8:09 pm

Rawhide – I think you mean 2010 -2011 season.

And I think he should stay. He’s a plus player. He’s helping the team more than he’s hurting the team. And he’s only going to get better.

jeff97

October 19th, 2010
8:15 pm

I think he stays. similar to Kane last year, he does very little right now on the ice that hurts this team. He is also very skilled and since he plays on the 4th line, that means he will often be out there on the ice vs other teams 4th lines against players not as skilled as him. i think that gives us an advantage. Sure there will be some bumps along the way, but i think he has earned this chance with his play and his overall attitude.

Rawhide

October 19th, 2010
8:17 pm

Raymond Bowe – Yes indeed they do play in the oHL. I brain cramped on that…sorry. It’s been fixed.

kracker – I haven’t heard yet about when Cormier should return. I’m sure as soon as he’s ready to hit the ice again, C-Viv will let us know.

jimbo

October 19th, 2010
8:17 pm

He’s playing 14+ minutes in the NHL that has to equate to about 14 games in the OHL. He appears to fit, is not awed, and skates as well as any of our centers. Keep the kid and continue his OJT.

Hokie P. Clisters

October 19th, 2010
8:29 pm

If Burmy stays then it says alot about Rammer’s confidence in him. Burmy seems to be doing all the little things to make coach happy. Rammer seems to go out of his way to praise the rookie. I am looking forward to see him play so I can make my own opinion. His teammates certainly seem to like him alot. However if he breaks out any figure 8’s then there’s trouble afoot…………..

SomaAtl95

October 19th, 2010
8:42 pm

I vote we keep him. Nuff said.

dwayne

October 19th, 2010
8:57 pm

if he stays there will be trouble, if he goes it will be doubled. i dont know what the hell that means for Johnny Burma tho.

Tony C

October 19th, 2010
9:02 pm

Howabout a 3rd option: Loan him to Frolunda ?

Tony C

October 19th, 2010
9:25 pm

IF he doesn’t stick-which while you can see he is still a boy amongst men, he does have some very adequate protectors skating with him… Still his vision is superior and while the speed of the game as it translates to time and space is something he’s still catching up to you can see (as Mr. T said) game-to-game improvement. The guy obviously wants to be here and that alone speaks to keeping him and well, it’s just a treat to watch him backcheck.

thebighairybeast

October 19th, 2010
9:26 pm

I guess I lean towards the stay side. Though I really want to say he goes down. Mainly due to the log jam we will have with the forwards. If he stays, who goes down when Cormier is up and at em?

Tony C

October 19th, 2010
9:47 pm

Also, some thoughts on Valabik-the guy’s still just 24…. if we look at most legit top-4 guys, it takes them a good 2-3 seasons at the NHL level to start to turn their stats towards a positive +/- … I’ve been watching the guy for as long as yall have and wow, he does seem to be a 1 step forward 2 steps back (at best)…but I also don’t believe he’s been afforded the time to “get” the NHL game… in part because of injury problems… I wouldn’t be surprised to see him become a top-4 guy in this league, him being on waivers, should he find himself in the right situation (another org.) he could very well blossom (like a certain Finn who, for all the grief he catches on these pages sports a career 2.67 GAA and is 4-1 on the young season) much like Chara did after leaving NYI or Prongs did upon reaching STL…

Darkhorse

October 19th, 2010
9:50 pm

What a nice problem for the Thrashers to have for a change. Too many useful forwards…..not enough sticks. I still need till game nine to decide, mainly because of the logjam and no one wanting to deal this time of year.

Mikey

October 19th, 2010
9:55 pm

Put me down for “ask me next week”, but I’d bet he sticks around.

The kid as done well, better than I thought so good for him

Smoothie

October 19th, 2010
10:15 pm

He stays, I would be very surprised if they sent him back to Barrie. Once Cormier does his “time” in the AHL and becomes a viable option to the parent club, the Thrashers will have great depth and flexibility to call up players like Patrice, Machacek and Freddy P.

Only problem is who becomes expendable? Modin or Dawes? Nigel is in a position where the next 5 to 10 games will be crucial to his future in ATL. And unfortunately, injuries do happen and it looks like ATL will have some organizational depth to lessen the blow.

Short-term IR for Antropov to give him 2 weeks of rest? I could see it happening when Cormier is ready or if Freddy P shows he’s deserving of a re-call.

Mikey

October 19th, 2010
10:21 pm

BTW BlogMaster, I like how the AJC have moved your link higher up on the Thrashers page. Right up near the top where it should be.

http://www.ajc.com/sports/atlanta-thrashers/

kracker

October 19th, 2010
10:28 pm

I’ll be darned!!?? I see Jeff Schultz has written what may be a favorable column about our Atlanta Thrashers, judging from the column title. I will read it tomorrow and see if that is so.

Mr. Heat Miser

October 19th, 2010
10:37 pm

Make him eat at the Varsity for lunch and make him hit the weights. Stays.

Polskidawg

October 19th, 2010
10:50 pm

He’s already a remarkable effective 4th line center, dare I say the best in team history. He’s staying. Dudley essentially said so when he was drafted – only injury or falling completely on his face would have changed it.

Cormier will spend a few weeks in Chicago, then he’ll be here to play and stay. I’d say that bodes poorly for Bolts, Modin and/or Dawes, as others have suggested.

Midfield

October 19th, 2010
11:08 pm

Burmistrov is not going to be sent down if Ramsay has any say in the matter. That’s pretty clear to me. He’s the most skillful PK forward Atlanta has ever had.

Thrashy Thrashy

October 20th, 2010
12:36 am

All you have to do is watch the kid to know he should be on this team for the duration. He’s in a perfect situation to learn the game on that fourth line. Besides, Rams can always sit Burmy for a game here and there to get him some rest.

stendek

October 20th, 2010
1:42 am

No need to wreck team chemistry now Bill. Just a thought. STENDEK @ _ @ GO THRASHERS!

Cornbread

October 20th, 2010
2:01 am

I’m liking more from him each game. At this point, stay.

Thrashpuppy

October 20th, 2010
2:14 am

I’m leaning toward stay too. His ability to read the ice and the play seems to be advanced for a player his age, from what I’ve heard and read so far. We need that. I hope he will work on building himself up more. But unless something drastic changes in the next few games, I just don’t see us letting him go back down.

Eugene

October 20th, 2010
2:36 am

They should send him down so that he can get more ice time in the minors. One more year of development and he can come back next year a much better player.

Alan R.

October 20th, 2010
7:12 am

Compared to our other centers, he’s already getting top-6 minutes. I’m completely in the “let him stay” camp — he’s earned it, even if he hasn’t scored yet.

Alan R.

October 20th, 2010
7:22 am

Hmm, now this is interesting…

Wonder how the league is going to handle this?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5LdnNz2gXo&feature=player_embedded

Red Light

October 20th, 2010
8:08 am

No. 8 is ranked 9th of the 42 rookie forwards who have played this year in terms of ice time and only two others have seen as much PK time on ice (nearly 2 minutes per game). Even with Slater’s return, Alex is 3rd among all Thrashers forwards in PK time behind Slater and Thorburn. Just don’t think there is much to be gained by sending him back to the OHL, except alienation, and we have already witnessed that with Bergfors. He stays and the rest of the roster moves will fall into place later. Antropov, Modin and Dawes haven’t created shots and aren’t getting the minutes they are probably used to just yet, but I wouldn’t expect that to last much longer. Antro got off to a slow start last season too in terms of goals, but with only one assist so far, he must still be bothered the hip.

Brendan

October 20th, 2010
8:11 am

Well, you all know how I feel about rushing prospects. So, conceptually and philosophically, I prefer to have high-end picks spend a year in development, for growth, strength, and maturity. Point of fact, “every, single Thrashers high-end draft pick has been injured in their rookie season.”

Okay, with all that out of the way, and knowing Thrashers history as I do, I doubt this Burmistrov is going anywhere. They may keep him on 4th line, as a developmental measure. And I can support that, to a degree. But, this eventual role is that of a Top Six forward. He is somewhat undersized at this age. I hope he’ll be okay. History within the “new” NHL shows us … that it’s a young man’s league, and that some prospects can make the leap right from the Summer Draft to the Fall NHL season. I just hope … that he’ll get through the season free from injuries, to buck the trend.

glovesave29

October 20th, 2010
8:49 am

Burmistrov has good hockey sense, and that cannot be taught…you either have it or you don’t. For him to be sent back to the OHL – against players far inferior to him is a waste of a valuable resource. Let him play on the 4th line – get 12 to 14 minutes a game…that is infinitely more useful than 25+ minutes a game on the top line in Barrie.

More importantly he is learning the life of a pro athlete. The temptations and the travel…the OHL is a tightly packed league geographically. The WHL actually better prepares players for the rigors of the NHL season. It’s more travel and a tougher style of play.

Still find it amazingly silly that it’s OK of a player of his age to play in the NHL, but he is too young for the AHL, ECHL or CHL.

World Be Free

October 20th, 2010
8:50 am

Like others have stated-this team needs to win this year, they need to start filling the seats again. If Burmie is the best man for his current position (or better) then he needs to stay. This franchise has to turn aroundnow and they need the talent to make it happen.

He stays-no need to ask me in 1 week.

DWTOO

October 20th, 2010
9:01 am

This is a real weakness in the system. He would gain nothing returning to Juniors where he’d be the big fish in the small pond. The only advantage is that the clock won’t start on his contract situation. He would probably be better served playing in the AHL or ECHL for a year and transition into the NHL. Since the options are limited he is best served remaining with the Thrashers.

J-man

October 20th, 2010
9:39 am

Cormier is not going to start with the Thrashers. With zero pre-season games played, it would be absolutely delusional to conclude that he won a spot in the NHL. He’ll go to Chicago and depending on his play and how some players on the Thrashers do, he might be called up later. Or he could end up playing the whole season in Chicago.

I’m not seeing how Burmistrov doesn’t stay. The experience he gets will be invaluable and will bring him that much closer to being a big contributor in the future on this team.

World Be Free

October 20th, 2010
9:57 am

The only advantage to Burmie returning to Barrie is the opportunity to play top line minutes and leadership responsibilities. I think a guy like this would learn more from being around NHL professionals, players and coaches. The current system protects the junior teams so NHL clubs won’t just move a player from juniors to the AHL for seasoning. For this reason, I approve of the current system.

Dandylions

October 20th, 2010
10:10 am

Alan R – I think a few free tickets are in store for that fan!

five_hole

October 20th, 2010
10:44 am

I’ve only gotten to see Burmie play in 2 games; the opener against the Craps and the next night vs the Bolts. He played like he belonged in both games.

And while I like most of us had Cormier penciled in this year, he hadn’t actually won a spot. I would not want to give it to him, simply on reputation. Let him tear it up in the minor leagues. A spot will eventually open for him, due to either injury or non-production of someone else.

Speaking of the minor leagues, I went to see the OKC Barons play the Lake Erie Ice Monsters (what a great name!) last night. The Barons won 3-0, with Martin Gerber in net. Maybe 250-300 people at the game (seemed like attendance at a Thrahser game). I sat in the 3rd row and it was quiet enough there you could hear the puck hit the glass (girls screamed when it hit in front of them). Glovesave, they had 2 of “our peeps” playing for the Ice Monsters, Z. Cohen & C. Cohen (I’m guessing they’re brothers).

Red Light

October 20th, 2010
10:45 am

The junior coaches have too much pressure on them to win. They all think they are the next Toe Blake. Keep him here so that Ramsay can continue to teach him and not let someone else screw up his development.

Tom

October 20th, 2010
10:55 am

The line for me is the penalty kill. If a junior player has the skills and determination to play on the penalty kill against the best talent in the world, they deserve to play at this level. And with 4th line minutes the wear and tear is not as extreme for the young player.

Old Time Hockey

October 20th, 2010
10:59 am

Take the contractural/RFA stuff out of the equation. Is he good enough to help the team? Sure looks that way and should only get better, as long as he avoids the rookie injury we have come to know the last few years.

Red Light

October 20th, 2010
11:00 am

Nice start for Brendan Morrison in Calgary. After trying out for the ‘Nucks and released, he gets picked up by the Flames and has responded with a goal and four assists in his first five games and is playing about 15 minutes per game.

OmniFan

October 20th, 2010
11:00 am

Five_hole-Zach and Colby Cohen were brother Terriers on the 2009 NCAA champs at Boston University but as far as I know, they’re not related

five_hole

October 20th, 2010
11:04 am

OmniFan Thanks for the info. Quite a coincidence that they played both at BU and for the same minor league team.

Tom

October 20th, 2010
11:17 am

Via CViv — Bogosian, Bergfors and Boulton are Thrashers scratches.

The bad attitude that Bergfors brought here and through the contract negotiations is wearing on Thrasher management. I think he is not long for this team if he keeps getting scratched.