The Pittsburgh Penguins are tight against the cap forcing the team to look to youngsters to fill important roster spots. Alexander Burmistrov ready to return to the Jets and the Los Angeles Kings still figuring out their players' legal matters.
Ramblings by Mark Allan…
As much as they could use the top-four Voynov back on their blueline to take some pressure off overworked star Drew Doughty, his future remains cloudy. The team is apparently feeling some local pressure to part ways with the native of Chelyabinsk, Russia, who is serving 90 days in jail as a result of a misdemeanor domestic violence charge. After playing a full 82-game NHL schedule in 2013-14, Voynov was suspended and got into just six games last season, In his mid-20s and just coming into his own, Voynov was missed badly, and the Kings never adequately replaced the minutes he logged. Accordingly, there are murmurs indicating the Kings’ braintrust wants him back.
If he isn’t deported or suspended by the NHL, the Kings could terminate his contract (as they are attempting to do with center Mike Richards) or attempt to trade him. The NHLPA filed a grievance over how the Kings erased Richards’ contract. Uncertainty about the remaining five years of his deal, at an average of $5.75 million per season, is complicating the team’s efforts to rebuild its roster for another Cup run.
The Kings terminated Richards’ contract, citing “material breach of the requirements of his standard player’s contract” amid rumors about his use of the prescription painkiller Oxycodone. Richards, however, has not been criminally charged, and the union grievance leaves the team and player in limbo. With Voynov’s status, and his $4,166,667 annual cap hit also up in the air, the Kings cannot bolster a shorthanded, underwhelming defense corps. Andrej Sekera, who played 16 games with L.A. after a trade with Carolina, signed with the Oilers as a free agent. Cody Franson and Christian Ehrhoff are UFAs who could bolster L.A.’s blueline. Whether they will still be available when the status of Voynov and Richards is clarified is anyone’s guess.
Alexander Burmistrov is back with the Winnipeg Jets. He has a two-year, $3.1-million contract, likely some additional maturity and definitely an opportunity to play with a team that is markedly stronger than when he left unhappily for Mother Russia three years ago.
Drafted eighth overall by Atlanta in 2010, Burmistrov compiled 23 goals and 35 assists in 194 NHL games with the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise. Citing conflict with coach Claude Noel and feeling bitter about a demotion to the AHL, Burmistrov bolted for his homeland when he became an RFA. After totalling 20 goals and 64 points in 108 KHL games with his hometown Ak-Bars Kazan squad in the Kontinental Hockey League, the skilled forward agreed July 1 to contract terms with Winnipeg.
A thaw between the Jets and the player began when he chatted with Noel’s successor Paul Maurice during the 2014 IIHF world championship. Burmistrov will likely be given a shot at earning the ice time granted last season to versatile forward Michael Frolik, a free agent who inked a five-year deal with Calgary. A slot on a line with Bryan Little and Andrew Ladd is expected to be up for grabs at Winnipeg’s training camp.
Ladd has been skating for two weeks as he gets back into shape following hernia surgery. Hurt much of last season while leading the team with 62 points in 81 games is a testament to Ladd’s commitment. He could be an excellent role model for Burmistrov.
A deep roster deepened further when Mike Santorelli signed a one-year deal with the Anaheim Ducks. The versatile depth forward scored goals in double figures in each of the past two seasons. He will earn $875,000, a pay cut from $1.5 million, but he will have a shot at a Stanley Cup ring.