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Avalanche acquires forward Andre Burakovsky from Capitals for prospect, two picks



Patrick McDermott/NHL, Getty

Never fails. I chose to take the 1-2 p.m. hour off for a little personal time, a trip to the gym for the first time in a month and a trip to the Thornton Food Bank to make a donation on behalf of peoples’ donations to the Avs Travel Tip Jar and…Avs made a trade then. Never fails. Been on airplanes several times with no Wifi when other trades have gone down.

So, there is a new member of the Avs and his name is Andre Burakovsky. He was born in Austria but grew up primarily in Sweden, a forward with 328 games of NHL experience, all with the Washington Capitals. To get Burakovsky, the Avs surrendered two draft picks – their second- and third-round choices in the 2020 draft, and prospect Scott Kosmachuk.

Here is the Avs’ trade release copy:

Burakovsky, 24, appeared in 76 games for the Capitals this past season, tallying 25 points (12g/13a).  He helped Washington capture its first Stanley Cup championship in 2017-18, returning to the lineup after missing the first two rounds and recording six points (2g/4a) in 13 postseason games. Selected by Washington in the first-round (23rd overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft, Burakovsky has tallied 145 points (62g/83a) in 328 career regular-season NHL games for the Capitals.  He has also dressed in 56 career playoff games, totaling 18 points (9g/9a).

“We are excited to be adding a big, fast, skilled winger like Andre,” said Avalanche Executive Vice President / General Manager Joe Sakic.  “He already has a lot of NHL experience at a young age and is a Stanley Cup winner who has performed well in the playoffs.  At just 24 he is entering the prime years of his career and we feel with an added role, he will be a great addition to our team.”

Burakovsky split his first professional season in North America with the Capitals and Washington’s Amerian Hockey League affiliate, the Hershey Bears. The 6-foot-3, 201-pound left wing tallied 22 points (9g/13a) in 53 games for the Capitals during the regular season and added three points (2g/1a) in 11 postseason contests. For Hershey, he notched seven points (3g/4a) in 13 regular-season outings and recorded one point (1g/0a) in one playoff appearance.

A Klagenfurt, Austria, native, Burakovsky played one season for the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters in 2013-14 and finished the campaign ranked fourth on the team with 87 points, while his 41 goals and 46 assists each ranked third. He paced the Otters with 10 goals during the playoffs and finished the 2014 postseason with 13 points (10g/3a) in 14 outings.

Burakovsky spent three seasons with the Malmo Redhawks organization in Sweden, totaling 12 points (4g/8a) in 53 games in Allsvenskan, the second-highest professional league in the Swedish ice hockey system. He accumulated 49 points (20g/29a) in 55 contests in SuperElit, Sweden’s top junior league. He represented his country at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship, tallying seven points (3g/4a) to help Sweden capture the silver medal.

The Washington Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan, the Caps’ beat writer, wrote this about Burakovsky in her story just now:

“General Manager Brian MacLellan said last week that other teams had inquired about Burakovsky’s availability.

“We like the player,” MacLellan said Thursday. “There’s been some inconsistencies there, but when he’s on his game, he’s a good player. We’d like to keep him around, but obviously his name is out there a little bit, so we do talk to some teams about him. But we’re not going to move him unless we get something we’re comfortable with back.”

MacLellan made similar comments around the trade deadline in February, when it looked as if Burakovsky could be moved. But after he had just five goals and four assists in his first 41 games of the season, he put up seven goals and nine assists in his final 35 games. MacLellan described Burakovsky’s season as “frustrating,” and that description could apply to his career, too. He has been streaky throughout his five years in the league, alternating between showing bursts of the speed and skill that made him an impressive prospect and prolonged slumps that could make him a lineup liability. He was a healthy scratch in six games last season.”

She also reported that Burakovsky requested the trade.

Burakovsky is listed as a left winger, but I’ve since been told that he mostly played on the right side in Washington. This move likely means Colin Wilson won’t be back. I didn’t really ever think he would be, but Burakovsky would seem to be his replacement as something of a potential top-6, top-9 winger on that side. And, it would seem to still leave room for a top-six winger on the other side, and we know who they’d like that to be (I don’t have anything new today on the Bread Man).

Some other scouting reports I’ve gotten on Burakovsky, from those who have seen him play a lot, include things like, “Good skater and good shot, but he goes through prolonged slumps…if he’s not scoring, then other parts of his game deteriorate…Gets pushed off the puck a lot…But then he was their best player in G7 vs. Tampa in ECF and in G7 vs. Canes this year. He will almost certainly benefit from a change of scenery”

I’m told Burakovsky is seeing a sports psychologist. Lots of players do this. But, apparently, he’s had a tendency to get down on himself and he is working toward staying more even keel.

A lot of Avs Twitter seems to think Sakic gave up a lot to get this kid. Time will tell. But keep in mind, how many picks they had in the top 100 this year. They’re now much better stocked with good prospects than they were a week ago. This move is one that suggests the Avs aren’t in “build for the future” mode as much as “let’s win now” mode.

Burakovsky is a restricted free agent who was qualified by the Caps at a $3.25 million cap hit. We’ll assume that the Avs have a new contract planned for him.

I don’t really like to “grade trades” so much, at least not right after they happen. I’ll leave that to the other experts. But the bottom line seems to be: they’re taking a shot on a kid who has yet to reach his potential, who has some talent but, as the Post story suggests, needed a change of scenery.

Here’s some video highlights and insight into the kid:

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