Andre Burakovsky and Philipp Grubauer have a special kind of relationship.
It’s the one that has different landing spots. One goes, the other follows.
It has become a running gag.
“I can’t get rid of Burky,” Grubauer said. “He’s following me everywhere.”
The feeling was mutual. But who’s following who?
“I love Grubie,” Burakovsky said.
He then went into full blown humor-me mode, making sure he said the following words with a smile, while peeking around the media scrum to ensure Grubauer, a prior teammate with the Colorado Avalanche and Washington Capitals, was within earshot.
“I don’t want to be out with my little schnitzel.”
Laughter ensued. Howl if you have to.
Burakovsky is not just good, he’s doggone good with the puck. He’s already attracting the attention of head coach Dave Hakstol for his fluid, puck possession ability, and wasn’t afraid to get a little dirty by scoring a goal at the front of the net during Friday’s second day session. He’s gained attention across the league as possessing the best wrist shot on the planet.
“We’ve seen a little bit of that out there,” said Hakstol. “We’ve seen it in the scrimmages.”
“He’s just got to keep working to be a part of the group. That’s all part of training camp.”
Putting it all together, consistently, will be a challenge in a new environment.
“I’ve been here a week now and get a long really well,” said Burakovsky. “Still getting to know everyone a little bit, but I think everyone’s welcomed me, and they’re friendly. It’s fun being around the guys now.”
Burakovsky earlier this week told 93.3 KJR he left the Avalanche on day one free agency to sign with the Kraken, a deal worth $27.5 million over the next five years, because of an opportunity to play with “an up-and-coming team to become something great.”
He scored a career-high 22 goals last season with the loaded Avalanche, who needed Burakovsky’s clutch game winning goal in overtime of Game 1 of the Cup Final to thwart Tampa Bay’s bid for a three-peat. Doing that under the conditions of surrounded talent including Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog, Nazem Kadri and Cale Makar may seem fit for a supporting cast role.
But Burakovsky had to earn his offense the hard way. Of the 22 goals he scored, 18 came at even-strength. What does that mean for an elevated role?
“There are expectations on you every single year, whether you’re first, second, third or fourth line,” Burakovsky said.
“First of all, I put a lot of pressure on myself to be able to be my best every night and if I’m not, I’m going to be mad at myself.”
Living up to those expectations where he has been asked to strengthen Seattle’s offense, tied for 28th last season at just 2.6 goals per game, will come with the backbone of two Stanley Cups – the first with the Capitals over four years ago, the second last summer.
The Kraken, who missed the playoffs last year, are still in the foundation building process of reaching that ultimate goal.
Grubauer wasn’t shy about sharing what Burakovsky can do.
“It’s time for him to make it three.”
TRAINING CAMP NOTES
Split into two teams, the squads flipped morning and afternoon session ice times on Friday, with 18-year-old Shane Wright emitting arguably the loudest ovation over the two-day session with a rocket shot, off the rush, past the glove of Philipp Grubauer, just before the conclusion of Friday’s scrimmage. The Kraken ended both sessions with an intense conditioning skate, termed by Hakstol as “two and a halves” (indicating number of laps through the length of the ice). The Kraken will take the day off Saturday, returning to the ice on Sunday on the eve of the preseason opener against Edmonton.
FRIDAY CAMP LINEUP