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Alex Burmistrov: 'I Really Hate the KHL. It's For Old Guys.'

Jun 22, 2010 – 9:00 AM
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Christopher Botta

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Some young Russian players have been less than convincing in recent years while trying to prove their commitment to the NHL -- hello, Nikita Filatov. Super-skilled Barrie Colts center Alex Burmistrov is so determined to stay in North America, he has practically denounced the league in his homeland.

"I really hate the KHL," Burmistrov told NHL FanHouse. "I really, really hate it. It's for old guys. I don't want anything to do with the KHL for a long, long time ... maybe ever."

Strong words from a player with the talent level to justify a pick between third and eighth overall, but fights the perception that he can always play in the Kontinental Hockey League if he doesn't like a contract offer -- or in Filatov's case, a head coach -- in North America. As a result, he still could be drafted in the 10-20 range.

Burmistrov did a lot of battling in Barrie. As an 18-year-old from Russia, he was tested nightly by opponents who believed his skinny, 6-0 frame could not withstand the punishment in the Ontario Hockey League. They were wrong, as the fleet center earned the respect of scouts.

"Alex dealt with a lot of hitting, some of it illegal," said E.J. McGuire, the director of the NHL's Central Scouting Service. "He dealt with it like a pro and started dishing it out himself. For a teenager from Russia in his first year playing in the Canadian Hockey League, he surpassed just about everyone's expectations. He is a very talented, very dedicated young man."

In 62 regular season games with Barrie, Burmistrov had 22 goals and 43 assists for 65 points. He was also 8-8-16 in 17 playoff games for the Colts.

While he was pegged as a mid-first round draft pick by many teams and scouting bureaus, Burmistrov made his move at the NHL Draft Combine in Toronto last month. Teams were impressed by his command of the English language and what most believe as a sincere commitment to ply his trade in North America. (Burmistrov's rights are held by his hometown team in Kazan, but he does not have a contract -- or any kind of obligation -- to the KHL franchise.) According to McGuire, NHL teams were unanimous in their praise of the prospect.

"Alex is proof that a player can make a strong case for himself at the Combine," said McGuire. "He really won over the scouts."

Burmistrov describes himself as "a very good playmaker who can score goals or create them for my teammates." He says his style his similar to the great Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings because "I'm a guy you can count on to be strong defensively."

But can Burmistrov be counted on to stay in North America, even if his development doesn't always go smoothly?

"Yes," he said with enthusiasm. "I played last year for 80 dollars when I could have made a lot more back home. I'm never going to play in the KHL, except maybe when I'm really old -- like Jaromir Jagr."
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