The Russian center is rated as one of the fastest players available in the entire NHL draft.
Two prospects rated in the top five were still available, defenseman Cam Fowler, and Brandon Gormley but the Thrashers chose to select Burmistrov.
“We targeted this player from Day One,” Thrashers general manager Rick Dudley said of the 5-foot-11 who played junior hockey for the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League ( OHL) last season. He finished the regular season with 65 points scoring 22 goals, 43 assists.
A native of Kazan, Russia, Burmistrov nearly averaged a point per game in the playoffs, recording 16 points (eight goals, eight assists) in 17 games.
Burmistrov could speak only a few words of English when he left Russia to play in the OHL last season demonstrating his desire to play in the NHL. He now is more comfortable with English, but still appears shy when asked questions by reporters.
His talent and speed appear universal. This year at the NHL Top Prospects game he won the fastest skater competition, which was, no small feat given the level talent he skated against.
“We look for three things in our players -- character, intellect or hockey sense and speed,” Dudley said in a Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) interview. “He’s got all three. He probably ranks a nine [out of 10] in all three of those categories. He’s probably the smartest player in the draft.”
Burmistrov has been compared to Detroit Redwing star Selke, Lady Byng winner Pavel Datsyuk, and Russian great Igor Larionov.
Dudley also said “it is possible Burmistrov could compete for a Thrashers roster spot as early as the coming season."
Burmistrov will likely attend the Thrashers’ prospect camp in July.
The draft comes two days after Dudley pulled off a blockbuster trade with Chicago to acquire forwards Dustin Byfuglien and Ben Eager, prospect Akim Aliu and defenseman Brett Sopel.