The Winnipeg Jets missed the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons since the move to Manitoba, and the 14th time over 16 seasons over franchise history. The season does not end for us though at Jets Nation.
Welcome to our series where we take an analytical approach, dissecting what went wrong with the Jets 2015-2016 season and how to improve the team for next year.
We turn our evidence-based breakdown of the Jets with Alex Burmistrov’s 2015-2016 season.
Numbers include all situations including non-5v5 TOI.
With 7 goals and 21 points, Burmistrov’s scoring production was that of a fringe third-line player. It was the second lowest NHL Equivalent point per game production of his career since he was 17.
He did provide value by being one of the Jets’ best players in drawing penalties (although not quite like Nikolaj Ehlers) and being healthy for the most of the season, but the team would very much like to see his shot total and scoring increase given his icetime.
Visuals courtesy of hockeyviz.com
Overall, we see Burmistrov’s usage fairly similar to that of Adam Lowry, with the exception of Burmistrov bouncing between lines two and three rather than Lowry’s bouncing between lines three and four. Burmistrov played on the Jets penalty kill quite regularly and did have the odd power play shift when the team had a few injuries.
Burmistrov went through a variety of linemates, with a very large variety of performance between the different lines.
Much like Lowry, again, Burmistrov struggled to perform like his historical norm or even well enough to deserve a roster spot. In fact, the easiest way to summarize Burmistrov’s season would be “like Lowry but slightly less worse.”
Burmistrov started off the season with Lowry and Drew Stafford. At first I thought it was a good mix since Lowry and Burmistrov have a history of preventing shots against, which was where Stafford struggled. What I didn’t think of was that Stafford is a fairly modest shot volume generator, while Lowry and Burmistrov are afraid to shoot the puck. The line ended up being a disaster despite actually holding possession of the puck decently often enough.
Stafford began to cheat for more ofense, Lowry was constantly late in coming back after being overly aggressive on the forecheck, and Burmistrov would overcompensate by hanging back. In addition, while Burmistrov was still gaining the blue-line effectively, he failed to look for support at the right places. The line ultimately failed.
It was interesting phenomena to watch, as some complained we were seeing the same old Burmistrov yet the results were so different than in the past. While Burmistrov has always had his fair share of warts, there was a time when Burmistrov made up for his weaknesses elsewhere. While Burmistrov did not score at impressive rates, he did help the Jets outshoot and outscore, which is actually even more important.
This was not the case for most of last season, however:
Visual courtesy of Corsica
One would note that there was a shift at the end of the 2015-16. After the trade deadline, Maurice placed Burmistrov with Mathieu Perreault and Marco Dano together. Where Burmistrov’s limited but useful skillset actually improved his linemates with significant chemistry. Maurice noted that Perreault had a great impact in teaching Burmistrov how to better use the 23-year-olds particular skills.
Burmistrov was once a player who did not score a lot, but was still useful in other areas. For most of this season though he was not helpful for the Jets even in those areas.
What Burmistrov will we see next year? If we get a return to the 2011-13 and post-trade-deadline Burmistrov, the Jets will have regained an exceptional impact bottom-six forward who could be used much like Chicago Blackhawks employs Marcus Kruger. If not, the Jets would not lose much walking away from Burmistrov in the summer of 2017.
Hopefully though we do see a bounce back, as the Jets have been sorely lacking a third line center with the team’s insistence to play Perreault on the wing. While some hope for Lowry or Copp to pass Burmistrov on the depth charts, there is little evidence they would perform better in the long run as they have been historically even worse scorers than Burmistrov at the same age:
NHLE numbers are “smoothed” out to decrease change from season-to-season.
There is still the possibility of Nic Petan being the player to develop into that 3C role…
All numbers are courtesy of Corsica and are 5v5 score, venue, and zone adjusted unless otherwise noted.