Staking his claim

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:10 AM ET

From nearly off the radar to knocking on the door of the National Hockey League.

Welcome to the world of Manitoba Moose forward Alexandre Burrows, who is back in Winnipeg after creating quite a buzz in Vancouver Canucks training camp.

The hard-working winger, who opened last season in the ECHL with the Columbia Inferno after a disappointing camp with the Moose, doesn't appear headed for a repeat performance.

Instead, he's talking about landing a full-time spot on one of the top two lines.

"It'll be a bigger role, that's for sure," said Burrows, who had nine goals, 26 points and 107 penalty minutes in 72 AHL games last season and added three assists in 14 Calder Cup playoff games. "I'm ready for that. I'll probably get more ice time too and that's what I want, to show everybody what I can do out there. I worked hard this summer, so I think I'll be ready to play against the top lines from other teams and bring more offence to my game too. This is going to be another big step for me."

Benefit

Burrows, who helped Canada win a gold medal at the world ball hockey championship in Pittsburgh, Pa., this summer, believes the new rule changes and crackdown on obstruction should benefit his game.

"It's a different game out there and it's a lot of fun," said Burrows, 24. "Your first few steps are going to be key. Guys aren't allowed to hold you up. It's going to be great. Last year, I used to get hauled down a lot and I wasn't able to work through the interference. Now they are calling everything, so D-men aren't allowed to hold you back. I'll be the first one in on the forecheck and throw my body around."

Moose head coach Alain Vigneault wasn't the only one who came away impressed by Burrows' showing at Canucks camp.

"The last game he played before they decided to send him down, he had been one of the best players and one of the things (Canucks head coach) Marc Crawford was saying was that 'Burrows really gets through on the forecheck and punishes guys,'" said Vigneault. "To me, (Burrows) understands his role, his job and his strengths. He's never going to be one of the top guys offensively but I think Alex is going to take this to the next level and become an impact player in this league."

Moose general manager Craig Heisinger believes Burrows' ability to be effective, no matter what line he's playing on, is a big key to his success.

"I don't think Alex is a guy who ever lacked confidence," said Heisinger. "He's going to be looked to a little bit more and has a bit of a leadership role now. He's worked very hard to get to where he's got to and he's got to work even harder to get to where he's going to."

That may be true, but Burrows' confidence has probably never been higher after getting into two NHL exhibition games, one against the San Jose Sharks and another against the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

"I had a few good hits," said Burrows, who even saw some time on the penalty kill with Canucks No. 1 centre Brendan Morrison. "It was lots of fun and I played quite a bit. It was a good experience for me."

One of the other highlights was suiting up in the Canucks' Blue-Silver intrasquad game that attracted a crowd of nearly 15,000 hockey-starved fans at GM Place.

"It was packed," said Burrows, a product of Pincourt, Que. who went to training camp with the New York Islanders three years ago. "It was a great feeling. Especially during the shootouts, the fans just loved it. The fans were great and that's what it's all about."


Videos

Photos