Bur­mistrov OK with be­ing ‘wild card’

24 Hours Vancouver - - SPORTS - BEN KUZMA

Alexan­der Bur­mistrov hopes his game will do the talk­ing this sea­son. The Rus­sian cen­tre kept his com­ments brief Wed­nes­day, but be­lieves he was mis-cast in pre­vi­ous Na­tional Hockey League stops. At age 25 and at the ca­reer cross­roads, he has much to prove af­ter sign­ing a one-year, one-way US$900,000 free-agent con­tract with the Vancouver Canucks. The fact the 6-1, 180-pound for­ward fin­ished with a flurry with the Ari­zona Coy­otes last sea­son — four goals in his fi­nal five games af­ter be­ing claimed off waivers from the Win­nipeg Jets in Jan­uary fol­low­ing just two as­sists in 23 out­ings — piqued the Canucks cu­rios­ity. Bur­mistrov, who can also play wing, was cen­tring Loui Eriks­son and Thomas Vanek on Wed­nes­day, but on the first day of main camp it doesn’t mean much. Bur­mistrov could project as a fourth-line cen­tre here be­cause he has a de­cent two-way game and un­der­rated of­fen­sive skill. He had 13 goals in the 201112 sea­son, but that was five years ago. And he proved he can play with an edge by lev­el­ling Bos­ton Bru­ins’ be­he­moth Zdeno Chara with a heavy end boards check. But that was four years ago. “This is a big thing for me and this was an easy (free agency) call for me,” said Bur­mistrov, the eighth over­all 2010 pick by the At­lanta Thrash­ers, who wasn’t ten­dered a qual­i­fy­ing of­fer. “Ari­zona just gave me a break. The coach­ing staff (in­clud­ing cur­rent as­sis­tant Newell Brown ) came up to me and said: ‘Do what you can do — do your thing.’ “They gave me an op­por­tu­nity to play of­fen­sively and that was big pres­sure for me,” bkuzma@post­media.com Twit­ter.com/benkuzma

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