It is, perhaps, no surprise that Andre Burakovsky already is well-versed in Washington Capitals hockey, given that he models his game after fellow Swede Nicklas Backstrom to a certain extent.
Give him a couple of years and the 18-year-old winger might well be suiting up alongside Backstrom after the Caps made Burakovsky their first-round pick in the 2013 NHL draft.
“I really like the club,” Burakovsky told reporters Sunday in Newark, N.J. “I really like Backstrom and the other players. I watch Washington a lot and I’m really glad to represent them.”
A left-handed shot, Burakovsky checks in at 6-foot-1, 176 pounds. His father, Robert, played briefly for the Ottawa Senators in 1993-94 and at one point was a teammate of Caps assistant coach Calle Johansson, according to head coach Adam Oates.
Robert Burakovsky was near tears when the Caps took Andre with the 23rd overall pick, his son said.
“My dad means a lot to me,” Burakovsky said. “He helped me a lot in my hockey career so far. We talk every day and he’s a big, big reason to why I’m sitting here with this jersey on me today.”
The younger Burakovsky was born in Klagenfurt, Austria, while his father was playing professionally in that country, but moved to Sweden when he was about 1 and grew up there. He has played for Swedish club Malmo and said he isn’t sure if he’ll remain there or come to North America to play major junior hockey while he works his way toward the NHL.
Known as a scorer, he tallied 47 points in as many games two seasons ago. He said he needs to work on his defense but he’s good with the puck and a smart player.
Now it’s just a question of how soon he’ll arrive.
“I will work hard every day to get to Washington’s team,” Burakovsky said. “I think about maybe two years I will be ready.”
Burakovsky is the fifth consecutive forward taken by the Caps with a first-round pick, following Filip Forsberg, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Marcus Johansson and Anton Gustafsson.
The Caps later selected defenseman Madison Bowey of Winnipeg with the 53rd overall pick and dealt three picks to the Jets to move up to No. 61 and take center Zachary Sanford (Salem, Mass.) there.
Defenseman Blake Heinrich (Cambridge, Minn.) was the fifth-round pick at 144th overall, and was followed by center Brian Pinho (Beverly, Mass.) in the sixth and defenseman Tyler Lewington (Edmonton) in the seventh.