That “bear’ of a Swede, Andre Burakovsky, who turned 21 this past week, started his professional hockey career at the age of 16. He played for the Malmö Red Hawks of Hockey Allsvenskan, Sweden’s second league. In 2012 he was a point per game scorer for the clubs U20 team.
Burt, as Coach Trotz calls him, was invited to Caps training camp in 2013. He signed a three-year entry level contract that September. Spending time in the ECHL (East Coast Hockey League) and World Jr Championships, Burt had 41 goals and 46 assists in 57 games with the Erie Otters. And he recorded 10 goals and three assists in the World Juniors where Sweden lost to Finland in OT, leaving Sweden with the Silver.
Caps training camp once again took place in September 2014, where Andre made the opening night roster and collected his first NHL goal against the Montreal Canadiens. He split time with the Caps (53 games) and the team’s AHL affiliate Hershey Bears (13 games) during the 2014-2015 season, having several ups and downs–not uncommon for a 19-year old at the NHL level.
This season found Burkie struggling a bit through the first half and finding himself promoted to the second line alongside veteran Justin Williams and stunning Evgeny Kuznetsov. He has had 12 points in the last 11 games. The more comfortable Burt gets with his role on the Caps team, the more he seems to be able to produce. Weather he is getting the puck up the wall to Kuzy and reading the play to be at the right place when Kuzy’s pass is coming; or keeping pressure on the opposing team in their end and shooting more, Burakovsky gives the Capitals a dynamic scoring capability to keep whatever line he is on scoring through post season.
By Mel Abernethy
Photos by Mel Abernethy and Brittney Marcum