Monday, July 1, 2013

Caps Get Swedish Forward André Burakovsky 23rd Overall

Russian Machine Never Breaks:
“Since I was little kid I always watch Capitals play,” André Burakovsky said when asked about his new team, minutes after Washington selected him 23rd overall in the 2013 NHL Draft.

Another year, another European. For the seventh time since 2002, Washington Capitals selected either Swede or Russian with their first pick in the NHL draft. This year, it was Burakovsky, a crafty forward from the land of Ikea and Volvos.

The 6-foot-1 left winger didn’t produce at the high rate on a Malmö team that failed to make the postseason. His up-and-down season led to a dramatic fall in the rankings: originally a top-10 player according to some, he fell as low as 58th on Craig Button’s rankings. Most scouts had him a lot higher though, including Hockey Prospectus (13th), ISS, and McKeen’s (16th). He has shown the flashes of brilliance with all scouting reports on Burakovsky mentioning his speed as his biggest asset, but it’s far from his only trait. The son of a former Ottawa Senator, Burakovsky is a skilled guy, boasting a good wrist shot with a quick release.

Another problem with Burakovsky is consistency. He scored just four goals and eleven points in the Sweden’s second-tier league this past year. One of the reasons for his low production was the ice time he was getting with Malmö.

Russian Machine Never Breaks:
With the 53rd overall pick, the Capitals selected Madison Bowey from the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets. Over the last decade, the Rockets have produced several high-quality NHL defensemen including Shea Weber, Duncan Keith, and Luke Schenn.

Bowey is a Winnipeg native who earned a lot of praise from scouts for his skating. His footwork and speed allow him to always be at the right place at the right time while also keeping up with fast forwards and jumping up on rushes. HockeyProspect.com ranked him as high as 15th in their final rankings.

Bowey is also known as a great breakout passer. His crisp feeds are major part of his game, something that helps his team to keep pressure on the opposition. Due to his fine passing and solid shot, Bowey has been able to reach 30 point mark last year, becoming sixth among WHL’s defenseman under 18 years of age in that category.

“I like to play a physical game and also use my speed to my advantage,” Bowey told reporters after being drafted. “I think I can bring that to the Caps. They are a great, great offensive team and also strong enough defensively so I’ll think fit in great in that mold.”

He’s probably best known so far for scoring an important goal for Team Canada in the gold medal game of the Under-18 World Juniors against the US. His tally allowed Canadians to tie the game at two after they had lost their early lead. Frederik Gauthier’s goal would win it for them.

Russian Machine Never Breaks:
The Washington Capitals traded their 84th, 114th and 127th picks on draft day to Winnipeg in exchange for the 61st overall selection. After the second round, General Manager George McPhee reasoned, there was little talent left. So with the pick, the Caps grabbed giant 6'3" center Zach Sanford.

Coming into this year, Sanford was an under-the-radar prospect playing in the obscure EJHL. But as the year went on Sanford’s stock rose. He’s a big and fast pivot, something that sticks out late in the second round. However, many scouts, including Corey Pronman and Future Considerations, insist that Sanford needs to learn to use his size better.

A point-per-game player in the EJHL, Sanford has many offensive tools: his hands are very good for a big guy, he’s a smart player who sets his teammates up, and has a dangerous shot. Sanford needs to continue develop the way he did this past year. He was switched to left wing early in the year as he tried to adjust to a new league and struggled at the position. When he moved back to center, however, Sanford became a pivotal part of his team’s offense.

“I like to think of myself as a playmaker — being able to set guys, see them on the back door, on the breakout,” he told Mike Vogel after being drafted. “I think that’s definitely a big part of my game now and going down the road.”

Sanford has committed to Boston College and he’s expected to play there after next season. He’ll spend the upcoming year with Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL.

More information:
» Late Round Picks Blake Heinrich, Brian Pinho, and Tyler Lewington
» George McPhee Lets Mike Ribeiro Go
» Matt Hendricks Signs Four-Year Deal with Nashville Predators
» Caps Sign Carl Alzner to Four-Year, $11.2 Million Deal

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