The Winnipeg Jets may have suffered their first significant loss of free agency.
According to Russian media outlet Sports.ru, forward Alexander Burmistrov has signed a two-year pact with Ak Bars Kazan of the KHL.
UPDATE: The Jets have confirmed the signing and GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has addressed it with the following statement…
“Through our conversations and correspondence with Alex and his agent, it became apparent Alex had a desire to continue his development as a young player in the KHL.
“He remains a very talented player within the Jets organization and we will continue to monitor his progress and development going forward.”
Burmistrov, 21, was selected eighth overall by Atlanta at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft and enjoyed a successful rookie campaign (6G-14A in 74 games) with the Thrashers, followed by a successful sophomore campaign (13G-15A in 76 games) with the Jets.
His third year in the league, though, was far less successful.
Burmistrov had just 10 points in 44 games during the lockout-shortened campaign — made a healthy scratch four times — and, following the season, reports surfaced of him being unhappy in Winnipeg, including this from the Winnipeg Free Press:
Burmistrov wished to be dealt at the trade deadline and the Jets worked in vain to move him. It appears a trade is still the preferred course of action.
Burmistrov and head coach Claude Noel beefed on and off over the past two seasons and the relationship hit an all-time low when the player was a healthy scratch four straight games in March.
The Jets attempted to trade Burmistrov and reportedly had discussions with the Ottawa Senators, Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders at the deadline. The names Jakob Silfverberg, Drew Stafford and Kyle Okposo have all been attached to Burmistrov trade rumours.
Since that story broke, there have been indications Burmistrov would pass on re-upping with the Jets to re-join Ak Bars, the club he represented at the junior and senior levels prior to getting drafted.
What’s interesting, though, is that his agent shot those rumors down.
Back in May, the Free Press reached out to Burmistrov’s representative, Mark Gandler, who completely nixed the idea of his client playing in Russia.
“The only question I’m going to answer is to say that Alex is not going to sign in the KHL,” Gandler said at the time.
Sounds like things have changed.
As for the future — the Jets can keep Burmistrov’s rights until he’s 27 years old, so long as they continue to issue a qualifying offer each offseason, according to the Winnipeg Sun.