The 19-year old Latvian had to adjust to a new country, a new language and a new style of hockey when he arrived in Brandon 12 months ago.
"Right now, I feel more comfortable here. I have more confidence," said Bukarts this week, "It's my second year, I know the guys, I know the league and I know how I need to play here."
Bukarts scored 28 goals and 54 points in 65 games last season but thinks that he can not only improve on those numbers, but can also become a more rounded player by refining his play in the defensive zone.
The 5-foot-9, 192 pound Bukarts came to Canada with a goal of being drafted by an NHL team, and he says that goal is still foremost in his mind.
"I was kind of disappointed because I didn't get drafted so this year will be more important for me. " said Bukarts, "I need to work way harder and be a leader on the team. I want to just get drafted, that's the reason I came to Canada."
Bukarts also thinks he needs to be more consistent that he was in 2013-2014.
"Don't be like have a great game and, the next game, you can't even see me from the stands," said Bukarts, "I need to just be at one level, playing great hockey all season."
Bukarts and the Wheat Kings will open the Western Hockey League's regular season Friday night when they host the Regina Pats (7:30 p.m., Westman Communications Group Place).
Chaff...the Victoria Royals have pulled out of the bidding for the 2016 Memorial Cup Tournament, leaving the Red Deer Rebels and Vancouver Giants to duke it out for the hosting rights. The WHL's Board of Governors will hear proposals and select a host site on October 8th...the Victoria Royals and head coach Dave Lowry of agreed on a multi-year contract extension.