Photo: Sports Illustrated
Having already locked up three of their five restricted free agents (Brett Connolly, Dmitry Orlov, and Evgeny Kuznetsov), the Capitals continued to check off the rest of their to-do list as they announced the signing of young forward Andre Burakovsky to a two-year, $6 million deal.
One of two remaining RFAs without a new contract, Burakovsky’s new deal indicates the long-known fact that he is an essential piece of the Caps’ future, but that the Caps also want him to prove himself worthy of a long-term deal.
haha i pay for the first two 😂
— andre burakovsky (@andreburakovsky) July 4, 2017
Tuesday’s signing leaves only goaltender Philipp Grubauer, Liam O’Brien, and Travis Boyd on the Caps’ list of remaining RFAs still unsigned. The Capitals are currently $5,589,893 under the salary cap.
Burakovsky was drafted with the 23rd overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. The young Swede made the team’s Opening Night roster before the 2014-15 season at the age of 19-years old. He finished the season with a respectable 22 points (nine goals, 13 assists) in 53 games, after experiencing the growing pains that many young players of that age go through as they adapt to the NHL. His first and second full NHL seasons proved to be much more productive for the young left wing, as he recorded a career-high 38 points (17 goals, 21 assists) in 79 games played, showing the potential of being an explosive offensive force for the Caps.
The 2016-17 season would have no doubt have been Burakovsky’s best of his short career had it not been for a broken hand that he suffered on February 9, 2017 (ironically, also his birthday) while blocking a shot. He finished the season with 35 points (12 goals, 23 assists) in just 64 games played, but was on pace for 17 goals, 27 assists, and 44 points, at the time of his injury.
The 22-year old will likely see an even bigger role this season with Top-six right wing Justin Williams departing for the Carolina Hurricanes in free agency. He will most likely by centered by fellow youngster Evgeny Kuznetsov, which could make for a dangerous line. If he can stay healthy, Burakovsky has the chance to enjoy a breakout season playing alongside some of the best offensive players in the league in Kuznetsov, T.J. Oshie, Alex Ovechkin, and Nicklas Backstrom.
Burakovsky’s contract details can be found here:
FROM CAPITALS MEDIA RELEASE:
Burakovsky, 22, registered 35 points (12g, 23a) in 64 games with the Capitals during the 2016-17 season, recording career highs in assists and plus/minus (+13). In addition, Burakovsky tallied a career-high eight multi-point games last season, including a career-high three-assist performance against Carolina on Jan. 23. The 6’3”, 205-pound right wing recorded a point in six consecutive games from Jan. 13 to Jan. 23 (4g, 6a), tied for the fourth-longest point streak on the team last season. Burakovsky also scored the Capitals first goal of the 2016-17 season 0:59 into the first period on Oct. 13 at Pittsburgh, marking the third-fastest goal to start a season in franchise history.
During the 2015-16 season, Burakovsky recorded 38 points (17g, 21a) in 79 games, setting career highs in goals, points and games played. He earned a point in eight consecutive games from Jan. 17, 2016 to Feb. 9. 2016 (6g, 4a), marking the longest point streak by a Capitals player since Nicklas Backstrom recorded a nine-game point streak during the 2012-13 season (3/30/13-4/13/13: 1g, 14a). In addition, Burakovsky scored a goal in five straight games (1/19-2/6: 6g, 1a) and was one of 11 players in the NHL during the 2015-16 season to score a goal in five or more consecutive games. He also played in his 100th NHL/Capitals game on Feb. 6, 2016 at New Jersey, becoming the eighth player in franchise history to reach 100 games before their 21st birthday (Bob Carpenter, Scott Stevens, Kevin Hatcher, Gaetan Duchesne, Tom Wilson, Mike Marson, Nicklas Backstrom). The Malmo, Sweden, native was selected by the Capitals in the first round, 23rd overall, in the 2013 NHL Draft and has recorded 95 points (38g, 57a) in 196 career NHL games with Washington.
By Michael Fleetwood