The Washington Capitals’ most scrumptious cinnamon roll, Andre Burakovsky, proved he can perform in a big role this season. There’s a bright future ahead for the kid they call Dale.
|13:16||time on ice per game|
|57.2||5-on-5 shot-attempt percentage, adjusted|
|62.4||5-on-5 goal percentage, adjusted|
About this visualization: This series of charts made by Micah Blake McCurdy of hockeyviz.com shows various metrics for the player over the course of the 2016-17 season. A short description of each chart:
What a tumultuous year for Yung Dre.
Kicking off his third NHL season at age 21, Burakovsky first enjoyed time on the Tre Kronor line, immediately producing with fellow Swedes Nick Backstrom and Marcus Johansson. But then goals left him and did not return until Burakovsky broke through on another powerful line with Lars Eller and Brett Connolly in December. That third line had excellent returns but did not often rack up points commensurate to their dominance.
Things took a turn for the worse in February when Burakovsky broke his hand blocking a shot, missing time until the final month of the season. The reconstituted third line played stout in the playoffs but couldn’t score – then Burakovsky finally broke out late in the Pittsburgh series after enjoying a timely promotion to the ersatz top line.
That’s a rollercoaster, but I think 2016-17 has demonstrated Burakovsky’s viability as a core offensive talent for the Washington Capitals. Though he suffered a miserable slump and an unfortunate injury, Burakovsky’s play with Tre Kronor, then Eller and Connolly, then Backstrom and Oshie all points to a bright future.
After his injury, Burakovsky’s game somehow grew even more physical, as seen in his marquee performances in games five and six of the second round (though his suspicious lack of production before that certainly hurt the team) . Andre doesn’t have the creativity of Evgeny Kuznetsov, but Burakovsky is probably harder to push off the puck – that’s why he and Nick Backstrom were so deadly when together at the very beginning and ending of the season.
And that’s why I’m enthused for 2017-18. Unlike the big names at the top of the Caps roster and payroll, Andre is just now entering his scoring peak. He’s already shown competence in the fundamentals that inform strong possession play. He’s a sure thing for the top six next season, and I’d wager he’s about to become a bona fide hockey star.
Is Andre the best or what? Is he a sure thing for the top six next season? What do you make of his slump mid-season and before elimination games in the playoffs?
Headline photo: Justin Williams
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