Can you depend on Laich as your second line center?
The first thing Andre Burakovsky would like to clear up is that he has not decided where he will play next season.
First, some background.
Last week, after being taken by the Capitals with the 23rd pick of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft in Newark, the Swedish forward was selected by the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League with the fifth pick of the OHL Import Draft.
On Monday, Burakovsky’s North American agent, Kevin Epp, told The Hockey News that his 18-year-old client would be returning to Sweden next season, stating, “We had indicated to teams in the CHL [before the Import Draft] that he would be staying in Sweden.”
Otters general manager Sherry Bassin seemed taken aback by Epp’s assertion, telling The Hockey News, “If that agent doesn't want him to play with one of the best players in the world [16-year-old center Connor McDavid) and have the opportunity to score a zillion goals with his talent, never mind the Erie Otters, then he should reconsider the advice he's giving.”
Burakovsky, who has been working out in Arlington since the June 30 draft and is attending this week’s development camp, said a decision for next season will be made once he sits down with the Capitals, his Swedish agent, Patrik Aronsson, and his family next week.
“I’ll fly home after this week and make a decision with my agent and family,” Burakovsly said. “I don’t know too much about the leagues over here in USA and Canada. They know the leagues better than me, so I really hope they’ll help me a lot and that’s why I want to talk them.”
Caps general manager George McPhee said he’s willing to guide Burakovsky in the right direction but will wait until after development camp ends on Saturday.
“We haven’t had those discussion with him yet,” he said. “He said he wants to talk to me at the end of this camp. We’ll let him get acclimated here.”
In the past the Capitals have not gotten in the way of Swedish players developing in Sweden. Nicklas Backstrom and Marcusd Johansson each spent a year playing in Sweden before coming to the Capitals and making the team as 19-year-olds.
Burakovsky, a skilled left-handed shooter who can play either wing, made his mark at the 2013 Under-18 World Championships, where he scored 10 goals and added seven assists in 16 games.
After being selected by the Capitals, Burakovsky spent much of last week working out with Johansson, a restricted free agent who is trying to iron out a contact extension with the Capitals.
Burakovsky says he’ll need at least one season, and possibly two, to develop into an NHL player. He arrived at development camp standing 6-foot-1, 178 pounds.
“I want to show them what I’m good at -- skating, making moves with the puck, score some goals,” Burakovsky said. “I want to do my best in every situation and see what they think.”
Burakovsky said he’ll need to get bigger and stronger if he hopes to play for the Caps and is anxious to get into some scrimmages, which begin today at Kettler at 3:45 p.m.
“So far I’m not an NHL player; I’m just a drafted guy,” Burakovsky said. “I want to go out there and show the coach and GM I have skills that a lot of guys don’t have. It’s kind of new for me but hopefully it feels better every day.”