Maybe the grass isn't so green in the KHL after all.
Wayward Jets center Alex Burmistrov let it be known today that he's not looking to re-sign with his Russian club after his contract expires and the end of the season. His goal is to return to the NHL.
“We haven't discussed a new contract with Ak-Bars,” he told the Russian website Championat. “I would like to once again try my hand across the ocean and realize my dream of playing in the NHL.
“We'll see how everything goes. I don't want to speculate, but I really want to leave [the KHL] because the NHL ... it's my dream.”
Burmistrov, who last played for Winnipeg in 2012–13, hasn't exactly torn it up in his native country. He had only 37 points in 54 games last year for Kazan AK-Bars, and opened this season with three points in his first 10 games. Still, he's an asset that the Jets, who still control his rights, would be thrilled to have.
Winnipeg's eighth pick in the 2010 draft, Burmistrov was expected to be a cornerstone for the franchise, a Pavel Datsyuk-lite type of player. It never quite worked out, mostly because he was rushed into the lineup before he was ready to handle the physical demands of the NHL. Like the Red Wing's star, Burmistrov is undersized. But while Datsyuk has figured out how to compensate for his lack of stature through speed and guile, Burmistrov wasn't ready to master such tricks. His flashes of brilliance stood in stark relief to his inconsistency, which led to frequent clashes with former Jets coach Claude Noel. When Burmistrov's contract expired at the end of the 2012–13 season, he bolted.
And now he wants to come back. With Paul Maurice now behind the Jets' bench it's possible that Burmistrov could get the fresh start he needs in Winnipeg. Or maybe he will decide that his future lies somewhere else in the league and the team will accommodated him by making a trade. Either way, the Jets organization looks a little richer than it did yesterday.