Photo credit: Malmo Redhawks
Another year, another European. For the seventh time since 2002, Washington Capitals selected either Swede or Russian with their first pick in the NHL draft. This year, it was André Burakovsky, a crafty forward from the land of Ikea and Volvos.
So who is this guy?
Well, the 6-foot-1 left winger didn’t produce at the high rate on a Malmö team that failed to make the postseason. His up-and-down season led to a dramatic fall in the rankings: originally a top-10 player according to some, he fell as low as 58th on Craig Button’s rankings. Most scouts had him a lot higher though, including Hockey Prospectus (13th), ISS, and McKeen’s (16th). He has shown the flashes of brilliance with all scouting reports on Burakovsky mentioning his speed as his biggest asset, but it’s far from his only trait. The son of a former Ottawa Senator, Burakovsky is a skilled guy, boasting a good wrist shot with a quick release.
According to Caps head coach Adam Oates, André’s father may have matched up against assistant coach Calle Johansson in the 90s, though he didn’t know much more than that.
“I have no information on him,” Oates told reporters. “Calle told me — I was just texting him — “I might have played against his dad.”
As for the younger Burakovsky, he’s very creative with the puck, keeping defensemen guessing. Craig Button of TSN named him a “game breaking type who makes teams better.”
Here’s an example of that, with Burakovsky scoring a beauty of a goal in the Ivan Hlinka tournament:
Burakovsky could use some work on his defensive play and he doesn’t seem to be strong enough to make the difference on that side of the ice. However, his attitude is definitely not an issue. Corey Pronman quotes an unnamed NHL boffin saying that “his work ethic is equal to his skill level.” His physical strength could be a big concern with his current weight at just 179 pounds.
Another problem with Burakovsky is consistency. He scored just four goals and eleven points in the Sweden’s second-tier league this past year. One of the reasons for his low production was the ice time he was getting with Malmo.
There’s a lot of uncertainty on whether Burakovsky will be staying with Malmo. Uffe Brodin from HockeySverige.se said that young forward will “probably” make a move to North America. Burakovsky himself, though, told Hockey’s Future he’d be open to playing in the CHL, where he hasn’t yet been drafted. SKA St.Petersburg owns his KHL rights, selecting him 102nd in 2012 KHL Draft.
Another Burakovsky goal in the Ivan Hlinka tournament is at 1:55 mark.
In summary: another pretty Swede, one with a lot of risk but a high reward.