After a quiet first day of free agency, the Colorado Avalanche got to work early Saturday as they have re-signed restricted free agent forward Andre Burakovsky. The deal is a two-year deal worth $9.8 million total. Carrying an annual average value of $4.9 million per season. Burakovsky was arbitration eligible this offseason.
The first year of the contract carries a salary of $4.4m while Burakovesky will take home $5.4m in the second season. The two year term makes him an unrestricted free agent at the end of the deal.
The Avalanche acquired Burakovsky last offseason when they made a trade with the Washington Capitals. The Avs sent over a second and third rounder for the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. At the time, the trade made perfect sense for both sides. Washington needed to make space. As well, the “click” just was never there between the two. Burakovsky had high hopes but failed to quite live up to them in a Caps uniform.
On the Colorado side of things, they badly needed depth scoring and with all the high-end upside he has, this was a solid bet to make. The bet paid off for the Avalanche too. Last season, Burakovsky set a career-high in points with 45. This is despite only being able to play 58 games, mostly due to the COVID shutdown but also because he missed a few with injury.
His closest season to this was in 2015-16 where he had 38 points in 79 games. If they got to play a whole season, Burakovsky likely would have crushed any previous record. He also was massive in the bubble for the Avs too. Putting up 17 points in 15 games. The scoring for the team dried up when they played the Dallas Stars, but overall he had a very good season.
An AAV of $4.9 million might look a little rich at very first glance for the Avalanche. However, it is a bit of a factor of two things at play here. First, they are hoping he can recreate this success, or at least get somewhat close to it. If Burakovsky becomes a guy who can reliably put up between 45-55 points, his cap hit will look very solid.
If he can’t, the good news for Colorado is that it’s only two years! They will be able to move on if it doesn’t work out, although given what we saw this year, it is a good bet he gets close to living up to this value. Colorado also isn’t strapped for cap space right now either. In fact, they have more than most in the league. So this $4.9 AAV won’t hurt them as most their new contracts won’t kick in until after it’s done anyways.
After the signing, the Avalanche still have $17.5m in cap space to add to the current lineup. That leaves more than enough room to re-sign RFAs and still grab one of the big fish on the market. If they’re looking to add another high-end forward, Taylor Hall, Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov are all still avialible.
On the back-end, all star Alex Pietrangelo is still mulling over his options and is expected to wait at least another day or two before making a decision. As interested teams start filling their holes on defense -and cap space - the Avalanche could become a more valid option for the former Stanley Cup champion.
Whether or not another big deal is made, it’s exciting to see Burakovsky in an Avalanche jersey for two more years.