Andre Burakovsky said he hasn’t seen much of Seattle.
It’s August. There will be plenty of time for that soon, and plenty of chances to introduce himself.
One alias that is befitting: goal scorer.
That’s what the Seattle Kraken hope becomes reality in their colors, wasting no time to sign the dynamic left winger in July on day one of free agency. His price was costly, perhaps necessary to fill a needed void: five years, worth $5.5 million annually, and according to CapFriendly includes a modified no-trade clause.
Burakovsky, while in Switzerland, met the Seattle media for the first time in a virtual news conference on Thursday and removed any doubt as to why he wanted to leave a Stanley Cup winner in the first place, for greener pastures with a franchise that’s looking to make a bigger push for the playoffs in what will be their second season.
“(Seattle) is a team that has potential to become a great team and accomplish great things,” said Burakovsky.
“One for me too, was obviously getting a bigger role. Play a little bit more. take more responsibility.”
He scored a career-high 22 goals and an overtime winner in Game 1 of the Final on a loaded Colorado Avalanche team that won the Stanley Cup last season, then became a part of a conundrum for executive Joe Sakic: too many bodies, not enough salary cap space. The hockey world caught on, and Burakovsky, playing behind entrenched talent such as Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog and superstar center Nathan MacKinnon, emerged as one of the biggest prize candidates in this summer’s free agency class.
By finishing 29th out of 32 teams in goal scoring (2.6) per game and in power play efficiency, the Kraken needed offense, and faced with a mandate to throw money at it four months after pledging an aggressive approach in free agency.
Burakovsky was technically on the market only for hours before the deal was completed and announced. Statement made.
“I think that when you show interest that early, you kind of know that they want you right away,” said Burakovsky, who said he got a seal-of-approval on the move from talks with Alex Weinberg, Philipp Grubauer, and former Kraken forward and Capitals teammate Marcus Johansson.
“It kind of felt like a right spot for me.”
“His skill is elite,” forward Ryan Donato told the Kraken Audio Network. “He’s a very big part of a winning team and a guy I’ve always watched. His skills take over and he’s very much a guy you want to be on the ice with at all times.”
Burakovsky, re-locating to the area with girlfriend Johanna Scortea, has already enjoyed seafood stops and a meal at Pink Door, an Italian restaurant adjacent to the city’s iconic Pike Place Market. The next box to check off is securing long-term housing, something Burakovsky said will not be in city limits and instead, tucked away in neighboring Bellevue or Kirkland.
“It looks beautiful with the water and mountains in the background,” said Burakovsky.
After that, there’s nothing left to do but to explore the reaches of the ceiling for his NHL career, now entering its ninth season. He'll play big minutes and asked to produce top-six offensive numbers among Matty Beniers, Jared McCann, Jordan Eberle, all the while potentially integrating phenom Shane Wright into the lineup.
Burakovsky's won two Stanley Cups playing behind Alex Ovechkin and MacKinnon. He’s an established point producing forward. He’s learned the game’s elite level nuances from T.J. Oshie, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Landeskog, and Rantanen.
How much more is there?
“I kind of want to develop into a more of a leader (type of) player in general,” said Burakovsky. Show the way for maybe the younger guys, just become a better player overall, and help the team win games.”
Should the Kraken find the playoffs with Burakovsky, he won’t need much introduction.