One of the more interesting moves made by the Colorado Avalanche was the trade for Andre Burakovsky. The team sent a 2nd and 3rd round pick in the 2020 draft plus Scott Kosmachuk to the Washington Capitals for his contract. Colorado then signed him to a one-year deal worth $3.25 million.
What Has Andre Burakovsky Done So Far
What makes this move tough to grade is how underwhelming Burakovsky has been over his first five years. The former 1st round pick from the 2013 Draft never cracked Washington’s top six on a consistent basis; his ice time has hovered between a low of 11:08 and 13:50. Burakovsky has also never scored more than 40 points in a season. 2018-19 saw his second straight campaign of 25 points. His career best is just 38 points on top of that. Why then did Colorado give up two picks and a player who could have been used in case of injury?
The first thing one can cite is that Burakovsky has been an efficient player in his early career. His shooting percentage has never dropped below 10 percent and his point per game rate is a respectable 0.44. Some of his advanced metrics are also notable with a career 52.4 percent Corsi and a Relative Strength of 3.0. Those numbers would indicate someone who is strong with the puck and who doesn’t cost his team much in the possession game. Those skills should translate well to a team looking for more down-roster production.
What to Expect
There’s a lot to like about Burakovsky’s game. He’s a solid player who projects to play on the top-six line to start the year. He was buried in Washington behind several players who are among the league’s best. The Capital’s depth was simply too strong. Some of that is certainly due to Burakovsky’s production, but sometimes the environment just doesn’t work out.
That is exactly what Avalanche fans are hoping for. He’ll have much better linemates in Colorado starting with Nazem Kadri. Kadri is a natural center with plenty of experience. It’s easy to imagine the 6′ 3″ Burakovsky screening opposing goaltenders for Kadri or one of Colorado’s other scoring options to great effect.
It’s also possible, if highly unlikely, Burakovsky could slide to the top line next to superstars Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen for the same purpose. Such a move would push Gabriel Landeskog down next to Kadri as an outstanding two-way line that could both score and check the opposition. Coach Jared Bednar shuffled lines at various points last year to produce more scoring. The same might happen in 2019-20 and affect players like Burakovsky.
Burakovsky will have plenty of opportunity to show that he was worthy of a 1st round pick all those years ago. Colorado is on the upswing when it comes to their competitive window and they feel the former Capital can contribute more than what he has to this point.
Buravkosky should also be highly motivated to prove his monetary worth going into restricted free agency next summer. There is a very real chance Burakovsky could score 40 or more points for the first time in an increased role in 2019-20.