Home > NHL > Atlanta Thrashers draft Alexander Burmistrov 1st round, 8th overall

Atlanta Thrashers draft Alexander Burmistrov 1st round, 8th overall

Tonight the Thrashers drafted Barrie Colts center Alexander Burmistrov in the first round, eighth overall. The reaction at the draft party in Atlanta was all confused chatter and restrained applause. Perhaps fans are a little reluctant to welcome another highly-touted Russian draftee to the team. Still, Burmistrov looks to be an exciting and welcome addition to the Atlanta Thrashers, who are currently in the thick of a major overhaul.

General Manager Rick Dudley had this to say in a brief video interview about the 6’0″ 175-pound center:

[Burmistrov’s] character, skating and hockey sense marks are off the chart. He’s a brilliant two-way player and he does so many things on the ice for his team…it’s been a long time that we had him as a target…almost since the start of the season…we liked the way he thought.

“Two-way player” being the key phrase. For most of the franchise the Thrashers have been plagued by notoriously weak defense, and while that’s steadily changing, having a versatile forward will help speed up the change. It’s promising that Burmistrov aspires to be like his role model, Selke-winner Pavel Datsyuk.

Currently, Dudley’s main concern is weight. At 175 pounds, Burmistrov is still too small to start with the Thrashers in the 2010-11 season, but Dudley says he will give the slender forward more consideration if he can up his weight to at least 185 pounds.

Bottom line is: the Thrashers are in dire need of a playmaking center with the intelligence and skill Dudley sees in Burmistrov. The team has lacked such a center since trading Marc Savard to the Boston Bruins.

In his post-draft press conference, Burmistrov came across dazed, happy, and most of all genuine in his excitement to be Atlanta-bound. Hopefully his enthusiasm at being drafted into the NHL will go a long way to dispelling fears that Burmistrov will succumb to the so-called “Russian Factor.” Remember, this young man chose the OHL over the KHL and has repeatedly shown that he prefers to play in North America.

Burmistrov said of his new NHL city:

Oh, I know Atlanta is hot. I know nickname Hotlanta, yes? I know this. My first game when I watched in the rink, I watched Toronto Maple Leafs against Atlanta. After the game I talked to Bryan Little, so it’s a good team I know.

Watching his face light up as he talked to reporters is sure to make any Atlanta supporter feel optimistic about the future of hockey in this city.

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