Capitals winger Andre Burakovsky has had a rough start to his season and was a healthy scratch for a second straight game tonight against Carolina. Accordingly, his name has started to come up in trade discussions, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman noted in an appearance on Sportsnet 960 (audio link).
The 23-year-old has been in trade speculation dating back to last season but he has shown spurts of becoming a top-six player in the past so Washington opted to hold onto him. However, those spurts haven’t been evident too often this season as he has just eight points in 29 games while spending most of the year in their bottom six. That’s not particularly good value for a $3MM cap charge on a team that is once again very tight to the salary cap.
It’s that cap hit that may ultimately make a sell-low move a realistic possibility. Burakovsky is set to become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer but with a $3.25MM qualifying offer required (his salary for this season), he looks like a prime non-tender candidate as things currently stand. An acquiring team may want to get a look at him to see if a change of scenery is enough to get him going while allowing the Capitals to get some sort of asset back (and perhaps some short-term cap flexibility) over losing him for nothing in June if they are leaning towards not tendering the offer.
It wasn’t that long ago that Burakovsky was viewed as part of Washington’s long-term plans. That doesn’t appear to be the case any longer and even though their potential return in a trade is a lot less than it was just a year or two ago, it still may be the time for the Capitals to move on.