Burakovsky, who’s now missed 20 games with the injury, played just six contests this season after a groin tear kept him out for the back half of the 2022-23 regular season and the playoffs, during which the Kraken defeated the Avalanche for their first-ever series win and took the Stars to seven games in the Second Round. The missed time showed in his play to start the season, going without a point and recording a -4 rating through his first four contests. He showed signs of life in his fifth game, though, notching two assists and a +1 rating in nearly 18 minutes of ice time against the Hurricanes two days before sustaining his upper-body injury.
With such a rich recent injury history, Hakstol signaled the Kraken are being cautious with Burakovsky’s return. He’s been skating in a non-contact jersey for nearly two weeks. Since signing a five-year, $27.5MM deal with the Kraken in the summer of 2022 after hoisting the Stanley Cup as a member of the Avalanche, Burakovsky has 13 goals and 41 points in 55 contests. If he can return to the lineup Thursday against the Devils, he’s projected to play a second-line role alongside Jared McCann and Alexander Wennberg.
- Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar informed media today that defenseman Bowen Byram is “hopefully” healthy enough to play tomorrow after leaving yesterday’s win over the Ducks with an upper-body injury. Bednar had confirmed earlier that Byram’s injury is not head-related, a sigh of relief considering his well-documented history of concussions at just 22 years old. Even if Byram can’t play, Bednar said superstar blueliner Cale Makar is an option to return tomorrow against the Jets after missing the last two games with a lower-body injury. Overall, it’s positive news for an Avalanche defense that remains without Samuel Girard for the foreseeable future as he undergoes treatment in the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program. Byram has played in all 25 Avalanche contests this season, logging five goals, three assists, and a -3 rating in 20:09 of average ice time.