Sports Hockey

Colts wait on Russian

IAN SHANTZ

The Russian is coming. They think so, anyways. They hope so, at least.

Alexander Burmistrov, who the Barrie Colts selected 12th overall in the Canadian Hockey League import draft at the beginning of the month, won't be here tomorrow. Or the day after.

He should be here when training camp opens in late August.

Of course, he may not be here at all if worse-case scenarios play out, and history has shown they sometimes do in these sticky situations.

The Colts picked another Russian, Kirill Polozov, 52nd overall in last year's import draft. He was a no-show. That isn't rare. Ask Sudbury Wolves fans what Nikita Filatov brought to the Wolves den. Filatov, the team's No. 1 import pick in 2008, failed to report, eventually signing with the Columbus Blue Jackets, never to be seen in the Big Nickel.

"Until you actually see the kid on the ice, there's always that chance he won't show," Colts assistant general manager Jason Ford said of the gamble that is the import draft. "But (Burmistrov) is going to report."

It's at the wait-and-see stage right now.

Burmistrov is aligned with New Jersey-based International Sports Advisors agent Mark Gandler.

Word is, Burmistrov -- a 17-year-old centreman eligible for next summer's NHL draft -- would see limited ice time playing for Kazan Ak-Bars, last season's KHL championship-winning team. He played one game for that team last year, while spending the majority of the year with the Russian club's lower-tier affiliate.

He also put up top-three numbers for Team Russia at the under-18 world championship.

In Barrie, Burmistrov could be a second-line foreman. The Colts appear well-stocked to make a run this season, but Burmistrov -- a skilled player the Colts dealt goalie Michael Hutchinson to London in order to get -- would be a worthwhile addition.

"You could see him as a 60-, 70-point guy. If everything goes well, maybe more," Ford said. "He has that kind of ability."

Ford, who takes the reigns for the Colts when it comes to the import draft, is hopeful his squad can pick up Burmistrov in person in mid-August, when he travels to Lake Placid, N. Y., with his Russian teammates for exhibition games during Team U. S. A.'s under-20 summer development camp.

In the meantime, the Colts will send their would-be star import a jersey in the mail, either No. 8 -- the number he sported at the under-18 worlds in Fargo -- or No. 91.

According to Ford, Burmistrov's style of play is similar to a former Colt who wore No. 71.

"(Vladimir) Nikiforov was just really quick. I don't think (Burmistrov) is quite as quick as Niki, but he's a little more polished.

"He's a determined kid. He wants to get drafted," the assistant general manager added. "And this is the kid we really wanted. And he's really responded well to the fact that we traded up to get him."

The Colts have yet to name a replacement for Jeff Beukeboom, who left his post as assistant coach this off-season to join the Wolves in a similar capacity. A new assistant could be named within the next week or so, as the interview process is winding down.

Meanwhile, it's expected Ryan Strome, Barrie's first-round selection in the 2009 OHL Priority Selection, will sign with the club as early as this week.



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