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The 25 Most Important Players for the Caps: No. 7 Andre Burakovsky

The 25 Most Important Players for the Caps: No. 7 Andre Burakovsky

Every player on an NHL team plays a role.Some, of course, play bigger roles than others.

In the coming weeks, Tarik El-Bashir and JJ Regan will rank the 25 most important players in the Caps’ organization, from least to most important, weighing factors such as past production, future potential and intangibles.

Today’s player: No. 7 Andre Burakovsky

Throughout this countdown, we have talked about players who need to produce more to help the Caps make up for the offensive production they lost in the offseason. But really there are two players the team will count on to make up the gap left by the loss of Justin Williams and Marcus Johansson. The first is Jakub Vrana who will need to not only make the team this year, but play in a second or third-line role. The second is Andre Burakovsky.

A hand injury forced Burakovsky to miss some time last season, but even so, 12 goals in 64 games is not the level of production the team is expecting from such a talented player. It's prove it time for the young Swede.

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Burakovsky knows that. He scored two goals in the opener last season, but was held scoreless for the next 26 games. Finally, after going without a point for seven straight games, head coach Barry Trotz pulled him from the lineup as a healthy scratch. Burakovsky got the message and scored a goal and an assist in his first game back. That message better carry over to this season considering the Caps will need him to take on a much larger role.

The good news is that Burakovsky showed he could handle a top-line role in the playoffs. With Alex Ovechkin dealing with a knee injury and the team facing elimination, Trotz moved Burakovsky to the top line. He responded with three goals and one assist in three games. Whether he is on the top line to start the season remains to be seen, but he will almost certainly be in the top six.

Johansson and Williams combined for 48 goals last season. If Vrana is able to make the team, a reasonable goal for him would be around 15 goals. That means the Caps will be looking for Burakovsky to contribute 20-30 goals next season. That is a lofty expectation for a player whose career-high is 17, but he has the talent to do it. He needs to live up to that potential this season.

Check out the full list of the Caps most important players as it comes out here and check out previous player profiles below.

— No. 25 Aaron Ness
— No. 24 Chandler Stephenson
— No. 23 Riley Barber
 No. 22 Pheonix Copley
— No. 21 Devante Smith-Pelly
— No. 20 Taylor Chorney
— No. 19 Nathan Walker

 No. 18 Philipp Grubauer
 No. 17 Christian Djoos

— No. 16 Madison Bowey
— No. 15 Jay Beagle
— No. 14 Brett Connolly
— No. 13 Tom Wilson
— No. 12 Lars Eller
— No. 11 Jakub Vrana
— No. 10 Brooks Orpik
— No. 9 John Carlson
— No. 8 Dmitry Orlov

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Andre Burakovsky responds to demotion with his first goal of the season

Andre Burakovsky responds to demotion with his first goal of the season

Andre Burakovsky needed a spark. In seven games playing alongside Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie, Burakovsky had only two assists to show for his efforts.

In order to spark the young winger, Barry Trotz moved Andre Burakovsky to the third line. It looks like that was a good move.

In his first game on the third line on Friday, Burakovsky scored his first goal of the season as he wristed a blistering shot past Detroit Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek. Watch it in the player above.

The biggest issue for Burakovsky this season was waiting too long to get his shot off. Trotz's advice to him was, "Don't think too much." Burakovsky took those words to heart.

After taking the pass from Orlov, Burakovsky had room to work. Rather than waiting for the Red Wings to close the gap while aiming for the perfect shot, however, Burakovsky turned and immediately snapped the shot away.

It was a play he was not making in the first seven games. Will this goal spark the breakout season we have all been waiting for?

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Tarik's three stars: Andre Burakovsky rises to the challenge

Tarik's three stars: Andre Burakovsky rises to the challenge

DETROIT— Did the Caps ever need that.

Alex Ovechkin scored on the power play in overtime, and the Caps skated away with a 4-3 win over the Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena. The victory snapped Washington’s two-game losing streak.

My three stars of the game.

1-Andre Burakovsky

Andre Burakovsky scored his first goal of the season in the second period, then made a nifty pass to T.J. Oshie with 1:01 left to play to tie the game 3-3 and force an extra session. As sweet as the assist was, the goal probably meant more to No. 65. With 50 seconds remaining in the second period and the Caps in desperate need of something, Burakovsky controlled a pass from Dmitry Orlov a ripped a shot through a Detroit player and past Petr Mrazek’s short side to send the game into the third period knotted 1-1.

RELATED: BURAKOVSKY RESPONDS TO DEMOTION WITH HIS FIRST GOAL OF THE SEASON

2-Tomas Tatar

The Slovakian winger tied the game 2-2 early in the third period with a beautiful, long range redirection that found its way past Braden Holtby. Tatar then struck on the power later in the final frame, finishing a world class crossing zone pass from Henrik Zetterberg that skated the Wings to a 3-2 lead.

3-Jay Beagle

Burakovsky got off the schneid. Then Beagle followed suit just 1:25 into the third period…shorthanded no less. With the Caps killing off a penalty, Alex Chiasson made a diving play to get the puck up to Beagle, who raced away on a breakaway. Beagle made no mistake once he got within striking distance. The assist marked Chiasson’s first point as a Capital.

Do you agree? Give us your thoughts in the comments.

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