Andre Burakovsky's basket. (Courtesy of MSE)

The Washington Capitals' annual Better Halves gift basket auction to benefit the Monumental Sports and Entertainment Foundation launched Monday and will close at the end of the second intermission of Friday’s game at Capital One Arena. The silent auction includes baskets of items put together by 24 different Capitals players with the help of their significant others, and features no shortage of autographed gear and Stanley Cup memorabilia. What makes the auction worth a look are the more personal items the players decided to include, such as dog toys, salami and maple syrup — all autographed, of course.

Andre Burakovsky’s basket comes with an autographed jersey, autographed hockey gloves, an autographed practice puck and a pair of autographed 200-level tickets to the Capitals-Florida Panthers game on Feb. 9. Burakovsky’s lot also includes autographed Swedish Ballerina Choko cookies, autographed Swedish ginger snaps, an autographed candle and autographed lingonberry sauce. Among the only items that aren’t autographed in Burakovsky’s basket are two VIP tickets for a tour and tasting at MurLarkey Distillery in Bristow, Va., and a Ronaldo jersey, because that would just be weird. As of Thursday afternoon, Burakovsky’s basket was going for a team-high $3,550 after 47 bids. Capitals fans must really love lingonberry sauce.


Devante Smith-Pelly's basket. (Courtesy of MSE)

Alex Ovechkin’s basket includes autographed Russian vodka and chocolate, as well as an autographed jersey. Nicklas Backstrom’s has Capitals golf tees and a $200 gift card to The Palm. Dmitry Orlov was the only player who took advantage of the opportunity to literally “put the biscuit in the basket,” with chocolate raspberry sauce-covered biscuits among his assortment of goodies. Orlov’s basket also features figs, honey and $25 gift cards to TGI Fridays and Subway. The defenseman has wide-ranging tastes.

Devante Smith-Pelly was among the many players who paid tribute to his roots with the items he chose. The Ontario native included a Toronto Blue Jays cap, which could make a nice item to throw on the ice the next time a Capitals player records a hat trick. Jakub Vrana’s basket includes an autographed Pilsner Urquell, Christian Djoos’s features Swedish Fish (better than Swedish fish), and Lars Eller’s comes with the complete fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen.


Braden Holtby's basket. (Courtesy of MSE)

The 1990s puzzle in Braden Holtby’s basket, Family Feud game in Brooks Orpik’s basket and crossword puzzle book in John Carlson’s basket would all go great with the signed bottle of Crown Royal in Tom Wilson’s lot. Jonas Siegenthaler included autographed dog toys and salami, while Matt Niskanen’s autographed four-person tent and Yeti tumbler, and Pheonix Copley’s autographed hiking socks, should appeal to the Capitals fans who like to get outside. Copley’s basket also includes several books with personal notes inside.

Last year, the Better Halves auction raised more than $47,000 for the MSE Foundation, which supports the charitable efforts of the Capitals, Washington Mystics, Washington Valor, Washington Wizards and Baltimore Brigade. Bids can be placed online. Winning bidders who are at Friday’s game may pick up their baskets at the MSE Foundation table outside Suites 210/211 between the start of the third period and the end of the game.


Matt Niskanen's basket. (Courtesy of MSE)

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