The biggest news for Seattle Kraken fans during the first day of free agency was the signing of André Burakovsky. The 27-year-old, left winger from Austria is a proven and consistent scorer with a full NHL skillset in terms of skating, passing and putting the puck in the net. With a career shooting percentage of 14.6%, we can expect the two-time Stanley Cup winner to contribute on the score sheet, an area where the Kraken look to take a step forward in 2022-23.
Drafted in 2013 by the Washington Capitals, Burakovsky put in a productive year with the OHL’s Erie Otters (41-46-87 in 57 games) before making the jump to the big club. In Washington, as in his most recent location (Colorado), Burakovsky played behind truly elite point producers and his comparably modest goal and point totals may reflect a lack of opportunity. But to dive somewhat into analytics, Burakovsky has been at or near 1 goal per 60 minutes of play for his entire career. Which simply means his totals represent his time on ice (career average of 13:48), whereas if he played the whole game he’d score 82 over the season.
Burakovsky, the person
In spite of being born in Austria, Burakovsky has a Swedish passport, and has made numerous appearances for that country’s national teams over his career. He has both U18 and U20 World Junior Silver medals in his trophy chest, along with the two Stanley Cups. From a hockey lineage, his father Robert also played at the professional level, drafted in the eleventh round back in 1985 (those drafts must have taken forever) and even suiting up briefly for the Ottawa Senators. The younger Burakovsky was born in Austria because that’s where his father’s extensive list of home clubs had him on the day André was born.
The former 23rd overall draft pick has two sisters (Alexandra and Anna) with his mother Pernilla rounding out the family tree. He apparently was a shampoo model back in Sweden, and sucks at some well-known board games. Generally regarded as a good guy in the locker room, another benefit in addition to his on-ice contributions.
Where does he fit on the Kraken roster?
At five years and $5.5 million per year, this is no depth signing. At worst, Burakovsky should be seen on the left side of the second line, and while he doesn’t have huge career power play statistics, his ability to finish should make him a regular on a Kraken man advantage that finished in 30th in 2021-22. If he clicks with projected first line center Matty Beniers, Burakovsky could easily meet or beat his career high of 22 goals.
Other left-wingers on the current roster include Jared McCann and Brandon Tanev. Tanev will be able to play the energy role he is best suited for on the 3rd line, while McCann, who is also coming off a career high in goals (27) will give Burakovsky some competition for those first line minutes. Regardless of the ultimate order on the depth chart, the Kraken left side looks set, stable and ready to out-produce its inaugural numbers.
One player doesn’t turn a team from an also-ran into a contender, but it’s worth noting that Burakovsky has a record of success. He brings solid scoring and advanced metrics to a team that had obvious gaps in both and the cost and length of his contract look favorable. Within the five years that he’s signed for, we should expect some playoff appearances, and the post-season is when this player seems to shine.