Andre Burakovsky’s name was bandied about in trade rumors for much of last season as his play scuffled early on. According to general manager Brian MacLellan, that has continued after the 2018-19 season ended.
The 24-year-old Burakovsky will be a restricted free agent come July. MacLellan told Capitals media in a conference call Thursday that the team would like Burra back, but they have talked to other teams about dealing him.
“Andre had a frustrating year but I think he finished it up well,” MacLellan said. “From the trade deadline on, and he had a good playoffs. We like the player. 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. Obviously, his name’s out there a little bit, so we do talk to some teams on him. We’re not going to move him unless get something we feel is comfortable back.”
Last season, Burakovsky played a good chunk of games on the team’s rarely-used fourth line (leading to career-low 11:08 average ice time), and was scratched for nearly two weeks of games in December as trade rumors swirled. Burakovsky, who is in his prime, matched his output from the Capitals’ Stanley Cup-winning season, 12 goals and 13 assists, but has not taken the next step in his development.
The Swedish forward is coming off a two-year bridge deal that saw him make $3 million per season. Part of the consideration on if Burakovsky will be back is where his salary falls in his next contract.
The salary cap, which was expected to grow to $83 million, may not get that high.
“I think it’s frustrating,” MacLellan said. “We’ve been projecting using that $83 million number for the last part of the year and at some point we switched back to $82.5 million because there were some rumblings there. And now it seems to be going back a little further. I know it seems like it’s not a large amount of dollars, but it does impact teams that are right at the number as far as salary. So it is a bit frustrating and when you see it go down to maybe $81.5 million, I think there’s a pause on our part. We want to see the number before we move forward because it’s going to affect our roster decisions. Even on the bottom end and the fourth line, what we have to do going forward. The margins are that slim for us.”
MacLellan said that the Capitals are still figuring out if they will give all of the Capitals UFAs qualifying offer by Monday’s deadline. The uncertainty about the salary cap is one major factor.
When asked if Burakovsky is one of the players the Capitals have to make a decision on whether to extend a qualifying offer, MacLellan said, “Yes.”
Headline photo: Cara Bahniuk
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