Alexander Burmistrov has proven he's got the determination and the skill to make it in the NHL. Through five games, his line centering Thorburn and Eager has been the most consistent and productive on the ice. He has also seen time on the penalty kill and his high hockey-IQ has served him well there.
The kid shows poise, good decision making, speed, tenacity, and skill. He could fill the role of third or fourth line center admirably for the rest of this season.
But he shouldn't.
I know I'm going to be lambasted for saying this, but Burmie should spend the rest of the year in Juniors.
The company line from both Rick Dudley and Craig Ramsay has been that Burmistrov "has done everything he needs to do to stay here." And I can't disagree. However, a player with the amount of potential Burmistrov has shown in these five games needs ice time to develop.
Burmistrov has been centering the fourth line, though that line has been getting pretty decent ice time. In the California swing, Bumistrov averaged around 13:35 even strength ice time each game.
In Juniors, Burmistrov would likely play on the top line of his team and earn closer to 18 minutes of ice time per night, plus power play time.
With Patrice Cormier due back at some point from injury, it might make more sense to send Burmie back to Junior, place Cormier in his spot, and retain three full years of Burmistrov's entry level contract.
The principle is similar to that used when a head coach decided whether or not to redshirt a blue chip player in college football. Do I want four (or three) years of this kid at age 18-22, or do I want four years of this player at age 19-23, after an addition year of practice? Do the Thrashers want 3 years at $850k/year when Burmistrov is 18-21, or do they take those 3 years at that price when Burmie is 19-22, had another year in Junior, and has bulked up and matured for 12 more months?
Patrice Cormier isn't the same kind of prospect as Alexander Burmistrov. Cormier is expected to be an energy guy who spends his career on the third and fourth lines. Burmistrov is slated to be a top six guy and a point producer. It makes more sense for now to let Burmie practice lighting the lamp for 18 minutes per night in Junior while Cormier centers the thumper line in Atlanta.