Vancouver Canucks: A tribute to Alex Burmistrov and a theory for his departure

CALGARY, AB - NOVEMBER 7: Alex Burmistrov
CALGARY, AB - NOVEMBER 7: Alex Burmistrov /

Though Alex Burmistrov only played 24 games for the Vancouver Canucks, he retires from the NHL in Canucks blue and green. Here are a few thoughts on his brief tenure here.

The Vancouver Canucks lost yet another player from their already injury-ridden roster as forward Alexander Burmistrov announced his retirement from the NHL. Our own Scott Rosenhek shared his thoughts on that news earlier this week.

With centers Bo Horvat and Brandon Sutter out for multiple weeks due to injuries, the Canucks had to move players like Markus Granlund and Brandon Gaunce from the wing to the middle. The injury to Sven Baertschi forced the Canucks management to trade for Nic Dowd to fill in.

Though his agent says otherwise, many are guessing in Vancouver that Burmistrov was not satisfied with his ice time.

Burmistrov’s departure does hurt for the Canucks from a management perspective. He was signed back in July to a one-year contract worth less than a million dollars. He had shown signs of offensive revival near the end of last season with the Arizona Coyotes, where now-Canuck assistant coach Newell Brown was.

Burmistrov was an asset that could have been easily moved at the trade deadline for a late-round pick had he performed well. At the worst, he could have provided depth up front to allow Jim Benning to move other forwards more easily.

A theory as to why Burmistrov choose to leave

Though the sense many got was that Burmistrov was unsatisfied with his ice time, especially that he was getting benched late in games, I question if there was more to Burmistrov’s struggles with the Canucks than just ice time.

I mean, he wasn’t getting scratched on a regular basis, right? Just look at his fellow Russian Nikolay Goldobin.

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I have a feeling that with Sutter close to a potential return after the holiday roster freeze, that the Canucks asked Burmistrov to go down to the AHL.

It would have made sense from a financial standpoint and from a personnel standpoint as well as Dowd was just acquired a few games ago. Goldobin had just been given his first taste of the NHL after his latest AHL stint so he wasn’t the one to be demoted again.

I can imagine Burmistrov instantly hating the idea of going to the AHL, even if general manager Jim Benning promised to call him back up again first thing.

Looking at Burmistrov’s career shows that he bolted to the KHL immediately after the Winnipeg Jets sent him down to the AHL in 2013-14. He stayed for two years in Russia. He was in danger of being stuck in the AHL again in 2016-17, but the Arizona Coyotes claimed him from the Winnipeg Jets.

When the Jets had placed him on waivers, Burmistrov may have felt that his place in the NHL was disappearing. The thought of returning to Russia may have originated then, before he was claimed by one of the worst teams in the NHL. He had quite a few Russian teammates in Winnipeg, mind you.

He hoped that his strong campaign in Arizona would secure him a bigger role coming in as a free agent, but Vancouver had other plans for him as special teams, an area Burmistrov was brought in to help, started to struggle.

And then when one of the NHL’s bottom-ten team told him to go to the minors, Burmistrov chose to go back home. I don’t have any insider knowledge as to whether Burmistrov was asked to consider the AHL, but I would not be surprised at all if it were true.

I mean, Burmistrov wouldn’t be the only Russian player who detests the Utica Comets.

Anyhow, let’s take a look at what the Canucks will be missing as they say goodbye to the Russian forward formerly drafted eighth-overall, five picks behind Erik Gudbranson in 2010.

Remembering Burmistrov: 2 Goals and 6 Points

In his 24 games here in Vancouver, Burmistrov had two goals and six points. Had he played the remaining 45 games of the season for a 69-game season, he was on pace a five-goal, 17-point  campaign.

When it is all said and done, he may be best remembered as the player who scored the goal that gave captain Henrik Sedin his career assist #800.

Burmistrov may be remembered as that guy who sparked Derek Dorsett‘s goal-scoring spree to begin the year. Dorsett’s first goal of the season was assisted beautifully by Burmistrov who displayed a good skating on this nice assist.

On what may end up being his second-last NHL game of his career, Burmistrov did this. If the San Jose Sharks somehow miss the playoffs because they are missing their scorer Logan Couture, they can thank Burmistrov for single-handedly destroying their season.

Couture was diagnosed with a concussion and is out of the Sharks lineup without a timeline for return.

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Back in July, I was mildly joyous over this low-risk signing. I was hoping Burmistrov could either mentor or complement Goldobin as a player, forming a Russian duo that has good offensive upside for a third-line role of sorts. But am I really saddened to see Burmistrov leave?