The Washington Capitals qualified Andre Burakovsky, meaning he was due $3.25M this year. The team was tight against the cap with some signings to make so a move seemed likely. That move came on Friday afternoon as he was traded to Colorado in exchange for a second- and third-round pick in 2020 and minor league winger Scott Kosmachuk.
Talk about timing! If you missed my Ramblings on Thursday, I discussed what Burakovsky can bring to a team. A lot of what needs to be discussed about Burakovsky as a player can be found there.
What Washington gets
The Caps have their Stanley Cup though I’m sure they’re looking for at least one more with this core. With that said, Alex Ovechkin’s contract runs out in two years, Nicklas Backstrom’s is up next year, and those two, among many other parts of their core, are on the wrong side of 30. It’s time to start stocking the cupboards a bit because there’s no telling who will still be on the roster in two years.
Komaschuk is just organizational depth. You can read his Dobber Prospects profile here.
What Colorado gets
The Avs have arguably the best top line in hockey and a bevy of young defencemen set to make an impact. What the team was really missing is forward depth beyond the top line and Burakovsky helps solidify that.
Think about this: most people would agree that Burakovsky had a bad year in 2018-19. He was a healthy scratch at different points this past season and spent a lot of time in the bottom-6. Even with as bad a year as he had, he would have finished fifth on the Avs in points/60 minutes at 5v5 (from Natural Stat Trick), trailing the top line and Carl Soderberg, who was traded earlier this week. Even if Burakovsky isn’t a high-powered addition, he’s better than what the team had, especially when considering he’s a good defensive forward. He can help create offensive situations for his line mates and prevent them from the opposition. That’s a good acquisition.
Two questions: does he get to the top line and does he get to the top PP unit? The Colorado power play was lethal last year, out-scoring teams like Pittsburgh, Calgary, Washington, and San Jose. There was a rotating cast of fourth forwards like J.T. Compher, Tyson Jost, and Colin Wilson however.
I ask if he can get to the top line because that top line wasn’t together all year last year. There were times when Landeskog slid down to the second line. It never lasted very long as the team was fighting tooth-and-nail to get to the playoffs, but it seems like Bednar wants to spread out the scoring a bit. Moving Landeskog to the second line and Burakovsky to the top line would help in this regard.
That probably happens at times this year but I have my doubts it lasts for extended periods.
As to the second question, Burakovsky has never really been a go-to guy on the power play. He has about 300 minutes of PP ice time in his career, spanning nearly 330 games. Now, that was all on a team that had the firepower of Washington and their setup didn’t really allow for a guy like him to get a regular spot on the top unit. They needed a righty to play in the slot, and he’s a lefty better served in a facilitating role. He’ll face a similar situation in Colorado, however. MacKinnon is in the Ovechkin spot (both righties) with Landeskog and Rantanen (both lefties) playing the roles of Backstrom and Kuznetsov (both lefties). Also, MacKinnon and Rantanen are both great at gaining the zone, which is where Burakovsky excels Now, they did use Jost and Wilson last year, as mentioned, and they’re both lefties, so maybe the newest acquisition gets a chance?
Realistically, we have no idea how this is going to shake out until we get to training camp at least. If I were to guess, I would say that Burakovsky has a better chance at sticking on the top PP unit than the top line.
Who this helps
Who this hurts
*Note: I saw this both helps and hurts Compher because it would give him a legitimate second-line winger to play with but that same guy might also take away his power play minutes. At the least, there should be a competition for it.