For all the expectations and anguish that followed him around this season, Andre Burakovsky managed to match his output from 2017-18 exactly: twelve goals, thirteen assists. It was just everything else that changed.
|11.1||time on ice per game|
|49.2||5-on-5 shot-attempt percentage, adjusted|
|47.2||5-on-5 expected goal percentage, adjusted|
|52.5||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 season. A short description of each chart:
I could try to hide my bias, but we both know it wouldn’t work. I like this player a lot. I think I like him even more because of the obstacles he’s faced. He suffered three major injuries, all affecting his hands and his arms and therefore the core of his value as a player: his shot generation. And despite those setbacks, ice-time demotions, trade rumors, and spurious and detestable allegations about his mental fitness, he’s still here, god dammit.
Way back a million years ago, Burakovsky was a future top-liner, whose talent for creating lots of offense had him projected to be a big goal-scorer. Then he broke his right hand in February 2017, then his left hand in October 2017, then he suffered an unspecified upper-body in April 2018. Everything cratered. Although Burakovsky enjoyed a late-season surge (five goals after the deadline), he’s still not back to where he was or close to where he should be.
Things might even be heading in the wrong direction. Burakovsky generated a lower rate of shot attempts, scoring chances, and high-danger chances this season. His average shot distance has grown from under 29 feet in 2017 to nearly 32 feet now.
Click to enlarge. Charts via Sean Tierney.
Worse: he played a good chunk of the season on the team’s rarely used fourth line (leading to career-low 11:08 average ice time), and he was scratched from nearly two weeks of games in December as trade rumors swirled.
But that trade never came. For whatever reason, and the reason was probably good, the Caps held on to Burakovsky. He seemed to improve in every game down the stretch and into the postseason, where he scored what should have been a critical goal in game seven. He was one of Washington’s best players in their final game, which should make us all think twice about who we think this player actually is.
The Caps don’t have a lot of time to figure it out. Burakovsky’s two-year, $3-million AAV contract expires this summer in restricted status, leaving the team in a quandary. They will retain the rights to negotiate with Burakovsky if they make a qualifying offer of at least $3.25 million or make a deal with him at a lower cost. I hope it’s the latter, as three large is a tough number to reconcile with Burakovsky’s current role and apparent ceiling. Knowing that the team already shopped the player in December 2018, I’m not sure how keen they will be though.
But like I said above, I’m a believer. I admire how open Burakovsky’s been about seeking help from sports psychologists — first in 2016 and again in 2018. I’ve noticed him adding new dimensions to his rush attack when the team became less focused on his style of offense. And I’ve seen enough of big-game Burkie to dismiss him outright. I don’t know where we go from here, but I’ll root for this kid forever.
Andre Burakovsky with the biggest hit of his life pic.twitter.com/vWDOY2D0qh
— Ian Oland (@ianoland) October 23, 2018
I know this one will be controversial. I think we’re all in one of two camps here. Are you Over Andre, or are you a Burakovsky Believer?
Read more: Japers Rink
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