When Washington Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin parted with the Stanley Cup at the very start of the season, it was a scene straight out of the dramatic movie. The goodbye kiss, the tears in his eyes, and the promise that he would hoist it again in June 2019.
To keep this promise and make it all the way to the Stanley Cup final, general managers in the league have to make some changes ahead of the trade deadline to ensure the perfect roster is in place, and the Capitals will not act differently. And they already have one trade bait in place to make it happen.
According to NHL insider Elliotte Friedman, who was on the air of Calgary's Sportsnet 960 this morning, Caps general manager Brian MacLellan is considering moving his first round pick from 2013 ahead of the February trade deadline.
“Another guy I kind of wonder about is Burakovsky in Washington. It’s been basically a couple of years for him at this point where his name has been in trade rumors and out of trade rumors. He had big moments last year during the playoffs, and he got a big promotion this year when Wilson was hurt, but now he’s kind of down the lineup again. His is a name that’s kind of been out there a little bit.
“I think there’s a lot of talk going on. But you’re right, it’s a question of whether or not anything gets consummated about it.
“Somebody told me that that Sprong trade that Pittsburgh and Anaheim made, that one had been discussed for a long time before it actually happened. Sometimes it just takes people awhile to pull the trigger. That’s kind of where we are right now.”
The conundrum with Burakovsky is that he is in the second season of a two-year, $6 million contract and can become a restricted free agent this summer. He will also be eligible for arbitration. To retain his negotiating rights at the end of the season, the Capitals would have to tender him a qualifying offer, at minimum matching his current salary of $3.25 million
However, Burakovsky’s production has declined over the past three seasons and MacLellan might not want to continue paying him that much... It would make sense for the Caps to push the 23-year-old player on the trade block, though he'd be selling low with any potential return on a fast, skilled young forward...
Averaging 0.28 points per game this year, Burakovsky is on pace for his worst season...
Washington could lose an asset that was the organization’s 2013 first-round pick, for nothing in return, if they let Burakovsky walk this summer, or they take a shot and see what they can get for him on the trade market ahead of yet another Stanley Cup run.