The Washington Capitals re-signed forward Andre Burakovsky to a two-year, $6 million deal Tuesday, leaving just one restricted free agent from their NHL roster, goaltender Philipp Grubauer, left to extend this summer. Burakovsky’s deal will carry an annual cap hit of $3 million a season, and the 22-year-old will be a restricted free agent at its completion.
Details on Burakovsky deal: gets $500,000 signing bonus July 15, 2017. Salary for '17-18 is $2.25 mil. Will be paid $3.25 for ’18-19.
— Mike Vogel (@VogsCaps) July 4, 2017
With Burakovsky’s deal now done, the Capitals have $5,589,893 in salary cap space, according to CapFriendly.com, and that should be enough to re-sign Grubauer to a bridge deal and accommodate the five other players Washington will have to sign to fill out a 22-man roster. The team cleared some salary cap room Sunday night when it traded 26-year-old forward Marcus Johansson and his $4.582 million cap hit to the New Jersey Devils.
Especially with Johansson no longer in the lineup, Burakovsky’s role is expected to grow now that he is no longer on his entry-level contract. He recorded 12 goals and 23 assists last season in 64 games, missing about a month of the season with a broken hand. He played most of the season on the third line alongside center Lars Eller, showing flashes of the speed and elite shot that made him Washington’s first-round pick in 2013. But Burakovsky also has struggled with consistency at times; in the past two seasons, he has undergone two goal droughts of at least 25 games before getting scratched for a handful of games.
But the Capitals expect Burakovsky to play in the top-six forward corps next season, and they were encouraged by how he looked in the second round of the playoffs when he was moved onto a line with center Nicklas Backstrom and winger T.J. Oshie. That trio could be the team’s top line to start the season. When playing with Backstrom and Oshie, Burakovsky recorded three goals and an assist in the last three games against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
In 196 career NHL games, Burakovsky has 38 goals and 57 assists.
“I think we’ve got good, young guys coming up,” General Manager Brian MacLellan said Monday. “If I look at our lineup, I think Burakovsky could have played a bigger role. I mean I liked Burakovsky, Oshie, Backstrom near the end. They had a couple of really good games and looked really good together.”
Along with re-signing Grubauer, the Capitals have prospects Travis Boyd and Liam O’Brien left on their list. On Monday, MacLellan indicated the team wouldn’t be making any significant moves beyond extending its restricted free agents.
“I think we’re fairly comfortable,” he said. “We’ll see how it goes here.”