Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images
With the salary cap lower than expected, key players entering the final years of their deals, and with some big contract decisions coming in the next few seasons, there was no doubt that Capitals’ General Manager Brian MacLellan would likely be forced to make some moves to relieve cap space. After trading defenseman Matt Niskanen to the Philadelphia Flyers and veteran Brooks Orpik announced his retirement, MacLellan traded away another member of the Capitals’ 2018 Stanley Cup team, dealing former first-round pick Andre Burakovsky to the Colorado Avalanche on Friday afternoon.
While Burakovsky was one of the pending Restricted Free Agents the Caps extended a qualifying offer to, it soon became clear the Capitals were going to have to find a way to squeeze Burakovsky and fellow pending RFA Jakub Vrana under the cap ceiling with limited space available. However, per Capitals’ Senior Writer Mike Vogel, Burakovsky requested a trade, and the team subsequently dealt him to the Colorado Avalanche for minor league forward Scott Kosmachuk and two draft picks in 2020.
A former first-round pick of the Capitals (23rd overall in 2013), Burakovsky debuted with the Caps in 2014-15 as a 19-year old rookie, and showed promise, but his five seasons in the District were plagued by inconsistency and injury, and Burakovsky found himself playing bottom-six minutes this past season. MacLellan told reporters that had Burakovsky stayed, the Caps would have used him in a third-line role, which ultimately was not what the 24-year old forward envisioned going forward.
Burakovsky played in 328 games withe Capitals, scoring 62 goals and adding 83 assists for 145 points, with a plus-34 rating and average of 12:45 of ice time a game. Burakovsky’s close friend and fellow first-round pick Tom Wilson, wished Burakovsky well on social media, to which Burakovsky responded:
Love ya brother. Good luck the rest of the way, see you in the corners!!! @andreburakovsky pic.twitter.com/q4XEZm8hjY
— Tom Wilson (@tom_wilso) June 28, 2019
Thanks bro. Love you, keep your head up!
— andre burakovsky (@andreburakovsky) June 28, 2019
While he struggled with injury and inconsistency, Burakovsky was also beloved in Washington and his arrival in 2014-15 coincided with the return to contention for the Capitals. In his first NHL game he scored his first NHL goal, becoming just the 13th player ever in Capitals’ history to do so and just the fourth-ever player to do so in his NHL debut. And while he struggled in the 2017-18 season, Burakovsky helped the Caps in their run to the Stanley Cup, scoring two goals in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final to help the team advance.
Burakovsky, like many players, also gave his time to various charitable efforts in the community, further endearing him to the Capitals’ fan base. While Burakovsky’s time in D.C. did not go as he nor the team had hoped, a change of scenery might very well be the thing the young forward needs to find his game.
He will forever be a part of the team that rewrote Capitals’ history and his contributions to that run won’t be forgotten anytime soon. Good luck Andre and thank you!
By Michael Fleetwood
Andre, we hardly knew ya.
GM MacLellan is decisive and accurate with Big-ticket decisions, and the Andre B. trade is executed perfectly. We have the DC Sports media kind of ragging on the “mercurial” and “inconsistent” and “unconfident” and “often injured” Burakovsky. Some guy named Trotz coaxed a Stanley-Cup-winning performance out of Andre two seasons ago. And under Trotz Andre B. played very well when he wasn’t injured.
I count Burakovsky as a casualty of at least partial cluelessness on the part of the Really Great New Caps Coaching Collection (RGNCCC). In the glorious Caps’ 2018-19 NHL season, RGNCCC was able to get the most out of every player on the roster – NOT! GMBM even admitted that he wanted Andre to stay, AND that Andre played very effectively in the second half of the 18-19 season. Well what about the first half of the season? Why could RGNCCC not figure out how to best deploy a seasoned four-year Caps’ veteran forward with elite skills and a great work ethic?
So as usual I risk getting gonged for high negativity on a Caps sports website. But I stick to my guns: Andre B. was a disappointment. Niskanen was a disappointment. Orpik was a disappointment. DSP was a disappointment. Capitals’ goaltenders were a disappointment. All sorts of players were a disappointment. Well what about RGNCCC?
Day One thinks that RGNCCC was gruesomely disappointing, and set the Caps up to lose ingloriously to the Bargain-basement-salary Carolina Jerks in the most uninspired Caps playoff performance we’ve suffered for years. The Caps are hemorrhaging players and, with all the talent they had under one roof, just plain stunk in the 2018-19 season. Fortunately for Caps fans, GMBM is a master at stocking the team with players, both short- and long-term. I’m far less impressed with his coaching preferences. RGNCCC? We can’t do better than this?
At the very least, RGNCCC will have very few excuses to float if they stink up the NHL this coming Autumn. GMBM has engineered another excellent playoff-bound team with championship potential. It’s RGNCCC that is dubious. I hope that GMBM sees the obvious shortcomings of RGNCCC, and will act accordingly if they drop the ball – er, puck, this Fall.
Pingback: Capitals’ GM Brian MacLellan Discusses Free Agency, Andre Burakovsky Trade With The Media | NoVa Caps