In Elliotte Friedman’s 30 Thoughts he mentions that a potential solution to the Canadiens’ injuries woes at centre could be current Jets forward Alexander Burmistrov.
Despite a glowing review of his skill set, the young centre has struggled to find his game in the NHL, especially this season. In 23 games this season, Burmistrov has managed a meager two assists, good for dead last on his team in scoring, behind Chris Thorburn. A quick look at his statistics reveals a gloomy outlook.
Since the start of the year Burmistrov is a drag on his linemates, with them clocking in at 51 CF% when he’s off the ice versus 48 CF% with him on the ice. Offensively he’s been struggling when it comes to generating scoring chances and shots. With the Canadiens missing Galchenyuk for two months, the Habs would be wise to target someone with a higher ceiling if they’re going to go down the trade route.
It’s also apparent that he doesn’t play a defensive role well either, in the mold of a Torrey Mitchell. Burmistrov doesn’t do well suppressing opposing scoring chances, and on a team that already struggles at preventing chances, adding another liability isn’t going to help.
That being said Burmistrov has shown in the past that he is a highly skilled player, capable of scoring on a regular basis. During his brief stint in the KHL, he finished eighth in the league in assists, and within the top twenty of overall scoring. The KHL is a notoriously difficult league to accrue points in, so seeing Burmistrov post those kinds of numbers is an encouraging sign.
But the fact of the matter is he’s struggled at the NHL level. In 81 games with the Jets last season Burmistrov produced sub par numbers: 48 CF%, 43 SCF%, and 37 GF%. This season things are worse. He’s sporting a 43 CF%, 31 SCF%, and 18 GF%.
While it’s a slightly more intangible, it could be that a trade out of Winnipeg, and a change of scenery can help reinvigorate Burmistrov. It wouldn’t be the first time Marc Bergevin took on a reclamation project. With past success with players like Dale Weise, Torrey Mitchell, or the resurgent Paul Byron, it’s entirely possible the Canadiens GM takes a flyer on the Jets forward. Given his struggles, the cost to trade for Burmistrov is likely at its all-time lowest point. His current $1.5M contract leaves him as a RFA this summer.
Despite the probably low cost to acquire him, I don’t believe Burmistrov is a long term solution to the Canadiens current injury woes. He won’t likely contribute on the powerplay, where Montreal has struggled since Galchenyuk went down with his injury. It’s also entirely possible that his potential production could be matched by one of the prospects in the AHL, such as Charles Hudon, or even Nikita Scherbak.
Trading for Burmistrov right now wouldn’t be a disaster for the Canadiens, but it would continue the trend of acquiring bottom six talent for next to nothing. The Habs need a top six player and Burmistrov is simply not at that level.
CF% = Corsi For, SCF% = Scoring Chance For %, GF% = Goals For. Statistics via Corsica.