The Washington Capitals are expected to qualify forward Andre Burakovsky, who can become a restricted free agent on July 1, by Tuesday’s 5 PM ET deadline to submit qualifying offers, according to Isabelle Khurshudyan of the Washington Post. The Capitals have to offer him a contract that will carry a cap hit of at least $3.25 million, his salary from last season.
Forward Jakub Vrana and defenseman Christian Djoos will each get qualifying offers from the Capitals. Forward Dmitrij Jaskin will not get one and it is unclear whether forward Chandler Stephenson will get one either.
The restricted free agents who are not qualified by 5 PM ET can become unrestricted free agents on July 1.
It was unclear whether or not Burakovsky would get a qualifying offer as he has struggled with consistency and staying healthy throughout his NHL career. Burakovsky has been a healthy scratch at least twice in each of his five NHL seasons.
Qualifying Burakovsky could also be setting up a potential trade as his name has been on the rumor mill during almost all of last season.
After finishing the 2015-16 season with 38 points (including 17 goals) and the 2016-17 season with 35 points (12 goals), respectively, the 24-year old was expected to make up for the losses of top-six forwards Justin Williams and Marcus Johansson after both of them left Washington via free agency and trade, respectively.
Unfortunately for the Capitals, Burakovsky was not able to carry his play from the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, when he had three goals and four points in the final three games, to make up for the 48 goals that were lost with the subtractions of Williams and Johansson.
Burakovsky only played in 56 games during the 2017-18 season due to injury and healthy scratch. He finished the season with only 12 goals, 25 points, and a +3 rating but had three goals and six points in the final eight games of the season. He missed 10 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs due to a hand injury and another to a healthy scratch. Burakovsky scored twice in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final to help the Capitals advance to the Stanley Cup Final in a 4-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning before recording four assists in five games during the Stanley Cup Final.
Burakovsky got off to a slow start this season, recording only five goals and nine points in his first 43 games. While he finished the season strong, seven goals and 16 points in 35 games aren’t necessarily worth $3.25 million per year. He recorded two points during the Capitals’ seven-game First Round series loss against the Carolina Hurricanes, though both of them came in the final two games of the series.
While Burakovsky has the potential to be worth that money, he has yet to show it consistently yet. If he does not start living up to that potential this season, General Manager Brian MacLellan will be shaking his head while dealing with the salary cap for the foreseeable future.
By Harrison Brown