Maybe it's posturing, maybe it's reality, but at this juncture it doesn't appear Alex Burmistrov is prepared to extend his time with the Winnipeg Jets.
Two league sources have told the Free Press Burmistrov, due to become a restricted free agent on July 5, has no intention of re-signing with the Jets.
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.
In 194 games over the past three seasons the 21-year-old Burmistrov has collected 23 goals and 58 points. Opinions vary on him -- from bust to ready to bust out. Burmistrov can skate, stickhandle and defend but has yet to define himself as a player.
Many young players such as Burmistrov have gone through early career growing pains only to break out a little further down the road of development.
Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff won't want to let Burmistrov walk at a discount rate but if the player is intent on not returning, market value gets muddy. It will be difficult for Cheveldayoff to have it both ways and solve a present problem while guarding against future regret.
The relationship between player and team is fractured. Cheveldayoff has a valuable and young asset on his hands but getting his signature on a contract is another story.
Contacted Tuesday, Burmistrov's agent Mark Gandler had little to say.
"The only question I'm going to answer is to say that Alex is not going to sign in the KHL," said the longtime NHL agent.
Asked a number of questions, including if Burmistrov wanted to be traded, Gandler stuck to his response, repeatedly offering a variety of Burmistrov-to-KHL denials.
The Jets did not immediately reply to an inquiry about the status of contract negotiations with Burmistrov.
A request for a status update from Zach Bogosian's agent Bob Murray came back quick and clear.
"No discussions at this time," wrote Murray.
The fact the Jets are not deep in contract talks with Bogosian, their most high-profile restricted free agent, shouldn't be cause for alarm. Cheveldayoff is busy preparing for the amateur draft as well as finalizing his evaluation of last season. There's no rush to sign restricted free agents. Cheveldayoff can retain exclusive negotiating rights with a simple qualifying offer on July 2 and use the summer months to secure new deals.
The draft and unrestricted free agents, with timelines of June 30 and July 5, respectively, must be tended to first.
Burmistrov earned a base salary of $810,000 last season and Cheveldayoff must offer a five per cent increase to retain his rights. Such an offer won't be accepted, but with no arbitration rights Burmistrov has little leverage other than hoping for an offer sheet from another NHL club or departing for the KHL.
Cheveldayoff has lots of time where most of his RFAs are concerned, but that's not the case if Burmistrov is truly intent on leaving Winnipeg.
Cheveldayoff went through a similar dance with Evander Kane last summer, but both sides were fully invested in reaching a deal and they did.
If one side won't negotiate, an agreement becomes next to impossible.
All of this can change at the drop of a dollar, but if a trade is indeed unavoidable, the outstanding question will become what Cheveldayoff can reap in return.
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