Over the course of the 2017 off-season, the Vancouver Canucks made a multitude of high-profile moves. This includes the signings of Sam Gagner, Thomas Vanek, and Michael Del Zotto. The team also acquired defenceman Derrick Pouliot from the Pittsburgh Penguins. However, they may get some of their most valuable contributions from the signing of Alex Burmistrov.
The Hidden Value of Alex Burmistrov
Burmistrov, 25, was selected eighth overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by the Atlanta Thrashers, but has yet to live up to the hype. In his 324 career games, Burmistrov has put up 35 goals and 95 points, with a career high of just 28 points in 2011-12. Additionally, he returned to the KHL for two seasons in 2013-14 and 2014-15 after failing to adapt to the NHL game. Despite these underwhelming numbers, the skilled forward can provide value to the Canucks.
Waived by the Jets partway through the 2016-17 campaign, Burmistrov was claimed by the Arizona Coyotes. In Arizona he scored five goals and 14 points in 29 games. Of those five markers, four came on the power play. The Coyotes power play was managed by now-Canucks assistant coach Newell Brown. Brown used Burmistrov regularly on the Canucks second power play unit during the pre-season. The trend continued in the Canucks first regular season game.
Additionally, it seems as though the Russian may fill a void on the Canucks’ penalty kill. The team lacks forwards capable of playing a man shot. Burmistrov is not known as a defensive specialist, but it’s a role he is willing to taking on. His willingness to take on this role certainly gives Burmistrov an edge in playing time over other Canucks forwards, including Jake Virtanen.
What to Expect
While he is no longer the exciting prospect he once was, there is still upside in Burmistrov as a utility player. Bermistrov is a versatile player. He plays all forward positions and can play up and down the lineup. His willingness to accept a penalty kill role is a sign that Burmistrov is willing to do whatever it takes to play in the NHL. There are only a handful of Canucks forwards that boast the ability to play on both special teams units, but it’s possible that Burmistrov joins that group in some capacity.
The signing of Burmistrov was not a particularly flashy. Still, it is one that could prove to bring some under-the-radar value to the Canucks. On a team that struggles to score, he could bring some offensive depth, both at even strength and on a power play. His versatility could prove to be an asset for the club. It is conceivable that the Burmistrov signing may go down as a savvy one looking back.