Left wing Andre Burakovsky was a bit of a surprise as the Capitals' first-round selection, with fellow wingers Hunter Shinkaruk and Valentin Zykov still on the board at the time. Shinkaruk and Zykov were ranked sixth and seventh, respectively, among North American Skaters on the final 2013 NHL draft prospect rankings, while Burakovsky was ranked sixth among European Skaters, according to NHL.com.
That being said, Washington found a good one in Burakovsky, a native of Austria who now lives in Sweden. Burakovsky played for Sweden at the 2012-13 World Junior Championship, at both the U-18 and U-20 levels. At U-18, he had four goals and five points in five games. At U-20, he had one assist in three games.
Professionally, Burakovsky played for Malmo of the Allsvenskan, Sweden's second division. He scored four goals with seven assists for 11 points in 43 games, with eight penalty minutes and a minus-two rating. An NHL scout helped justify Burakovsky's performance to Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News:
He’s had a tough year. It’s tough for those kids who are on the cusp of the big team but are too good for the junior team. They go on the road trips, but don’t play very many minutes.
Here is a more detailed evaluation of the 18-year-old from EliteProspects.com:
A flashy and offensively very gifted player. Equipped with great hands and puckhandling ability. Like his father, also a gifted shooter and has the tools to put up big numbers. Also a quite agile player with strong skating skills. Can work on his defensive game, and become stronger and more consistent.
Plus, HockeysFuture.com described Burakovsky as a "very creative player with a strong wrist shot who loves scoring goals. He is extremely good at picking corners and putting shots in under the crossbar."
Do those two scouting reports remind you of any Washington Capitals player, past or present? I was thinking Alexander Semin.
Before Burakowsky can cement those comparisons to Sasha, however, he will require some seasoning. Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News suspects Burakowsky will gain experience through playing hockey in North America:
Another player who might be in a major junior uniform in the future is Washington Capitals first-rounder Andre Burakowsky, who had a tough, up-and-down year back home in Sweden, but clearly has the skill set of an elite scorer. The CHL Import Draft is on July 3 and Burakowsky would be a candidate. “I have to talk to my agent,” he said. “But maybe.”
BEST-CASE SCENARIO: Top-six forward