Report: Kevin Cheveldayoff, Burmistrov’s camp to discuss possible NHL return this week

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Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff is expected to meet with Mike Liut, the agent for defected former Jets centre Alex Burmistrov, to discuss the possibility of the Russian-born centre making a return to the NHL, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger.

Burmistrov, 23, has spent the past two seasons playing for Ak Bars Kazan in the KHL. In 107 regular season games with Ak Bars Kazan he’s managed 54 points, totals that are somewhat pedestrian. 

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The slick forward may not be the offensive superstar that the Atlanta Thrashers hoped he would develop into when they drafted him with the eighth overall pick at the 2010 NHL entry draft, but he’s young and he’s a decent two-way forward. The Jets also own the right to first refusal in negotiations with him, so he could be an affordable addition to the roster – something that would be particularly useful with the likes of Michael Frolik, Drew Stafford, Jiri Tlusty, Lee Stempniak and Jim Slater poised to his unrestricted free agency.

Back in February, Garret Hohl looked at what Burmistrov could bring to the Jets roster:

Burmistrov repressed shots against relative to usage at a better rate than any current Jet other than Adam Lowry. Burmistrov also had a better differential relative to usage than all Jets except the top five. No player had a larger impact in relative Corsi (team’s Corsi with the player on the ice minus the player on the bench) than Burmistrov.

These are extremely good scores for Burmistrov, especially given that the current Jets are a stronger team in the shot metrics department and therefore relatively inflating the more recent results.

Still, scoring was an issue commonly brought up by fans. Burmistrov scored at 0.31 points per game in the NHL as a 19, 20, and 21 year-old. His scoring in the KHL has improved to 0.61 points per game, but this isn’t quite apples to apples. NHL equivalencies can be used to level the playing field, although they make some false assumptions in regards to TOI and PP usage.

I made some adjustments expecting similar 5v5 and power play TOI deployment as Adam Lowry and came out with an expected points per game range of 0.35 to 0.45. This range would put Burmistrov’s production between Adam Lowry’s 0.28 and Michael Frolik’s 0.49 this season.

The gist of it is that Burmistrov is a capable two-way asset, but not a top-of-the-roster point producer. 

Though he’s still young enough that you can dream on him hitting another gear, and he’s definitely got skill to burn, we’re likely talking about a player that could, with some luck and favourable development, become a Mikael Backlund or Frans Nielsen-type checking centre. 

At the very least Burmistrov would help bolster a Winnipeg middle-six forward group that has lost some crucial pieces over the past six months, and could lose a plethora of competent NHL-caliber pieces in the coming weeks. Bringing Burmistrov back into the fold won’t be easy, but indications are that he’s interested in returning to North American, and you can surely see why the Jets would be more interested in making that happen now than they have been at any other point over the past two years.