Meet the New Kraken: Winger André Burakovsky

The Seattle Kraken made a splash, though not one that some expected, on the first day of free agency in signing forward André Burakovsky to a five-year, $27.5 million deal

André Burakovsky

Age: 27
Position: Left Wing/Right Wing
2021-22 Team: Colorado Avalanche
2021-22 Season: Burakovsky had a career-year across all major offensive categories while remaining a very disciplined player. He scored 22 goals and 61 points in 80 games with a plus-12 rating and just 18 penalty minutes (PIMs). He topped that off with a Stanley Cup ring, his second, and scored eight points in 12 playoff games.
Type of Acquisition: Signed on the opening day of free agency, July 13, 2022.

Burakovsky’s Pre-Kraken Career

Up until recently, Burakovsky might have been overlooked a bit. He was drafted 23rd overall by the Washington Capitals in the 2013 NHL Draft. Following his draft year, he played one season in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) for the Erie Otters (with a 16-year-old Connor McDavid) and scored 41 goals and 87 points in 57 games. He added 10 goals and 13 points in 14 playoff games before turning pro. 

Related: 3 Underrated Capitals From the Ovechkin Era

Burakovsky spent just 13 regular season games and one playoff game in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Hershey Bears before getting the call to join the Capitals and then never looking back. He played there for five seasons, scoring 62 goals and 145 points in 328 games. I’d say he was underutilized as he only averaged 12:45 time on ice with secondary power play time during his stint there. Though he did win a Stanley Cup, having come through in clutch moments too. So in that sense, it worked out well enough. 

Burakovsky was traded to the Colorado Avalanche in the summer of 2019, and that’s where he really began to hit his stride, as he averaged 15:37 time on ice, and his role greatly expanded. While he’s never been much of a penalty killer, he saw significantly more use on the power play. 

His time there ended with 61 goals and 150 points in just 191 games – a wild jump from his time in America’s capital. Additionally, he saw a career-high in both blocks and hits while with the Avalanche. Most recently, his 61-point regular season and eight points in 12 playoff games helped secure his second Stanley Cup ring. 

Burakovsky’s Fit With the Kraken

There is no way that Burakovsky should be outside of the Kraken’s top-six to start the season. However you want to shake it up, he should be on the wing of either Shane Wright or Matty Beniers. He’s also going to help a power play that struggled mightily to an irrelevant 14.6 percent in their inaugural year. 

Burakovsky is hitting the prime of his career and should be given every opportunity to build on the momentum he gained during his time with the Avalanche. If that means that a veteran player like Jaden Schwartz or Jordan Eberle needs to slide down in the depth chart, then so be it. A reduced role as both players get older, and Schwartz is coming off injury issues, could help them as the season wears on. 

Jared McCann had a fantastic year last year, and with Wright’s addition and Beniers’ full jump to the NHL, he should stick on the wing. Adding Burakovsky’s offensive ability may ripple onto McCann as well, as he looks to repeat his own career year after exploding for 27 goals. 

It’s interesting to note that they were drafted just one draft and one pick apart, McCann is a year younger, and they both played in the OHL. It’s just a coincidence, but I enjoyed that little tidbit of information. For the Kraken’s sake, they’re hoping that McCann can take a similar trajectory as Burakovsky has, which the aforementioned tidbit could foreshadow. It’s even better to note that they’re on similar contracts, and both locked up until the 2027-28 season. Barring any trades, these guys are going to be staples of the Kraken’s forward group going into 2022-23.

Was Signing Burakovsky a Hit or a Miss?

This signing was a home run for Kraken general manager Ron Francis, and, honestly, the fan base as a whole, as they locked him in as his career has statistically been on the rise, at a very fair cap hit for a longer term. Additionally, he’s just 27 years old. This isn’t just some aging veteran they just signed. 

André Burakovsky Colorado Avalanche
André Burakovsky, Colorado Avalanche (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

It’s a signing that will greatly help either, if not both, Beniers and Wright as well. Burakovsky is a definite top-six winger on the Kraken, and assuming the aforementioned centers will be in the top-two slots, he’ll give them a fantastic option on either wing. 

Now, the way I’m speaking makes it sound like the Kraken just added their own Connor McDavid or the cure to their lackluster start in the win column. That’s just not the case. However, between their fantastic job at the 2022 NHL Draft and this signing, the pieces are in place to significantly speed up their build. I’m not saying they’re Stanley Cup contenders, but even shaving a year or two off of their overall build is a major victory. 

Related: Seattle Kraken 2022 NHL Draft Recap & Grade

Overall, this was a smart play by Francis. He didn’t swing for the fences, it’s a fair deal for a great player entering his prime with not only winning experience, but championship experience. The Kraken still have a ton of draft picks, and just need to allow their prospects the time to properly develop before they can join Burakovsky on the varsity team, where he’s going to be for years to come.

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