After two seasons in the KHL, Alexander Burmistrov is heading back to the NHL.
Burmistrov, 23, spent the past two seasons with the KHL's Ak Bars Kazan, but his contract expired at the end of the 2014-15 campaign. Last off-season, in an interview with Prosports.ru, Burmistrov said he would, "almost certainly," end up back in the NHL, with his hope being he would land in an organization that would give him playing time.
With a change in coaching in Winnipeg -- the team that owns the rights to the 23-year-old restricted free agent -- it's possible this opens the door for Burmistrov's return to Winnipeg. If not, he becomes an interesting trade chip for the Jets that other teams will certainly be calling about.
Drafted in the first round, eighth overall, by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2010, Burmistrov made the jump to the NHL as an 18-year-old straight out of junior hockey in Barrie. Over the next three seasons, the length of his entry-level contract, Burmistrov notched 23 goals and 58 points in 194 games while carving out a spot on the roster for himself with fantastic defensive play that made him a key contributor to the Thrashers, who the season after drafting Burmistrov moved to Winnipeg to become the Jets.
However, very public displeasure with then-Jets coach Claude Noel led to Burmistrov heading for Russia at the culmination of his entry-level deal. In 108 KHL games over the past two years, Burmistrov scored 20 goals and 63 points.
A skilled forward that possesses tremendous talent, it's possible that the two seasons in Russia have helped Burmistrov's game further mature and gave him a better sense of how he needs to play or what his roll will be.
The matter of inking him to a contract still remains and he'd probably be looking for a half-decent payday from the Jets. Coach Paul Maurice has done a great job in Winnipeg and GM Kevin Cheveldayoff would do well to bring Burmistrov back into the fold if he can. As it stands, Winnipeg currently has just seven forwards from their playoff roster under contract for next season.
Michael Frolik and Jim Slater were two of the depth forwards that played a big role defensively for Maurice and both could be headed out of town as unrestricted free agents. In addition, T.J. Galiardi, Jiri Tlusty, Matt Halischuk, Drew Stafford, Lee Stempniak and Eric O'Dell are eligible to become UFAs on July 1.
Burmistrov's return isn't the only news out of the KHL, however. It was announced today that Joakim Lindstrom, a 31-year-old winger who was drafted in the fifth round of the 2002 draft by Columbus, is heading back to Russia after yet another short stint in the NHL. This season, Lindstrom skated in 53 games split between the St. Louis Blues and Toronto Maple Leafs and scored four goals and 10 points.
Previously, Lindstrom had returned to the NHL on one other occasion: in 2011-12 with the Colorado Avalanche following two and a half seasons overseas with the KHL's Nizhny Novgorod and Sweden's Skelleftea. After the 2011-12 season with Colorado, in which Lindstrom skated in 16 games and had five points, Lindstrom again left for Skelleftea only to return this season with St. Louis.
In 150 career games, Lindstrom has registered 19 goals and 43 points.