WINNIPEG - The first thing you need to know about Alex Burmistrov is that he's a 19-year-old kid who already has a season of NHL hockey under his belt.
The second is that he thinks he's going to feel right at home in Winnipeg.
"People love hockey here and it's cold here and that's what I know," Burmistrov said Thursday after skating at the MTS IcePlex.
"It's -35 celsius in the winter in my hometown. Same thing."
Burmistrov comes from Kazan, Russia, but has played two seasons in North America, the first with the Barrie Colts of the OHL and the second with the Atlanta Thrashers.
He admitted the last two seasons were difficult, especially being so far away from home.
"It was hard to be by myself, with no family," he said.
Burmistrov had six goals and 20 points in his rookie season, but he projects to add to that total this season and is expected to eventually become a top-6 forward with the Winnipeg Jets.
His defensive game is already well developed for a player his age and his offensive game is coming around as well.
"I'm a point-scorer and I try to help my team win," he said. "I need to score a lot of goals and try to help my guys score. First, my goal is make the playoffs."
That goal will certainly be more attainable if Burmistrov develops ahead of schedule. A bigger offensive contribution from him could be just what the team needs to make a push toward the playoffs.
Nobody in the organization is putting that kind of pressure on the young prodigy, however.
"We have to take a bit of step back and appreciate the fact that he is still a very, very young player and most of his peers are still actually playing in junior hockey," Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said. "The fact that he does have a year under his belt is a very good thing. It was a good year for him. To put things into perspective, if he was playing with his peers, he'd probably be lighting up the junior hockey league."
Burmistrov doesn't necessarily agree that it was a good year.
"Not really," he said. "At the end I thought I played better, but I had injuries and some other stuff that would not let me play better. I feel confident I will play better this season. I understand NHL hockey now, so this season will be better for me."
He wasn't shy about saying what areas of his game need the most improvement.
"Everything, I think. Be stronger with the puck, play harder, play smarter. Everything."
Cheveldayoff said the organization will bring Burmistrov along slowly, adding more and more responsibility as the season goes on and seeing how he handles it. If last year was any indication, he will handle it well.
"We expect him to be a big contributor in a lot of different areas," Cheveldayoff said.
"His defensive game for a young player is very good. When a player comes out of junior hockey, a lot of times you have to spend a lot of time teaching the defensive side of it. He's an exceptionally smart player and he understands those aspects of the game already which gives him a bit of a luxury, so he can explore the offensive side as he gets more comfortable.
"He looks like someone that has physically matured over the course of the year. The difference between an 18-year-old and a 19-year-old from the physical maturity standpoint is grand. We're just looking for that natural progression from him."
Burmistrov is all for taking the slow approach, trying to fit in and finding a comfort zone in Winnipeg and with the Jets.
"I'm not trying to be a star, just be myself, who I am."
Hopefully this will be just the place for him to do that.