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After making the Capitals Opening Night as a 19-year old rookie in the 2014-15 season, Andre Burakovsky has shown the talent that made him a first-round draft pick (23rd overall) in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft in his first two seasons.
Burakovsky, like most 19-year old NHL players, eventually found the grueling pace of a full NHL season to be challenging. However, he managed to record nine goals and 13 assists for 22 points in 53 games played.
His first full NHL season proved to be much more successful, as Burakovsky scored 17 goals and 38 points in 79 games played as part of a Capitals offense that dominated opponents throughout the season. And after watching fellow youngster Evgeny Kuznetsov have a 20-goal, 77-point breakout season, it’s Burakovsky’s time to shine.
After being juggled throughout the lineup in his first two seasons, Burakovsky has a defined role this season. He’ll be slotted on the second-line along with (presumably) Kuznetsov and Justin Williams. Playing with such talent will allow the 21-year old Burakovsky to utilize all of his skills and flourish. With the departure of longtime Capital Jason Chimera in the offseason, Burakovsky will likely see power play time, something that will undoubtedly help his numbers increase.
Another reason Burakovsky is primed for a big season is the training and conditioning he did in the offseason. In order to be able to hang onto the puck in traffic and battle in the corners, Burakovsky worked with a trainer back in Sweden to gain muscle and strengthen his core. He also improved his skating and added to his already impressive speed.
With a bigger and clearly defined role in a potent Capitals offense, combined with high skill, the ingredients are there for Burakovsky to put it all together to have the type of season that will put him in the group of the NHL’s rising young superstars.
By Michael Fleetwood