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A Potential Remedy for Andre Burakovsky

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At this point would anything hurt?

NHL: Washington Capitals at Calgary Flames Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Andre Burakovsky’s career is at a crossroads. This summer he will be a restricted free agent, coming off of a two year bridge deal that carried a cap hit of $3M. There is a lot of pressure on the young, but no longer that young, Swede to produce offense at a level that would justify his AAV. It’s in the best interests of both Burakovsky and the Capitals for him to regain the scoring touch he showed in his first few NHL seasons.

It’s easy to forget that Burakovsky really was an effective player prior to suffering a hand injury while blocking a shot in early February of 2017. At the time of the injury; only 41 players had a higher P/60 than Burakovsky since he’d entered the league (min. 1000 minutes). The injury is a certainly a benchmark worthy of note, but his drop off could be tied to a myriad of other factors (inability to shorten his release, well documented confidence issues, etc.). That being said there may be things the team could do differently to get a little more offense out of Burakovsky.

By using the starting line combinations for each Capitals game that Burakovsky has played in over the last three seasons we can get an idea of where he has been most successful.

Data from Natural Stat Trick

Andre Burakovsky has played roughly the same number of minutes on both the right and left sides of the ice but with pretty different rates of production. Across all lines, Burakovsky’s production is 35% higher when he’s playing on his off-wing.

Putting Burakovsky back on the right side won’t magically make him the player he appeared primed to be, but there is evidence that offensive output, or at least shooting percentage, is increased when playing on the off-wing. It’s not like mixing it up is going to hurt his trade value.