Andre Burakovsky says he and the Caps’ medical staff have discussed next week as a potential target for his return to the lineup.
The 22-year-old winger has missed the last 14 games with a broken right hand.
Since Burakovsky has been out, his linemates, Lars Eller and Brett Connolly, have combined for just six points (2 goals, 4 assists).
“I feel pretty good,” Burakovsky said Tuesday after participating in the morning skate, his first on-ice activity with his teammates since getting hurt. “I still have got some issues with my hand. Obviously, it’s going to be like that for a while.”
Burakovsky was not a full participant in the skate, but he did engage in passing and shooting drills.
Afterward, he said that he’s making progress each day but is still experiencing some discomfort while shooting and stickhandling with his right hand.
“I was skating this weekend, on Saturday, and I could barely shoot the puck,” he said, referring to a non-contact scrimmage against members of the training and equipment staff. “And [just now] I was feeling good. I shot the puck pretty good and passing and stickhandling felt good, too.”
Asked about a return date, Burakovsky said internal discussions have pegged next week as an option. The Caps close out this week’s slate against Nashville on Thursday and in Tampa on Saturday, then they open a three-game home stand against Calgary (Tuesday), Columbus (Thursday) and Arizona (Saturday) next week.
”We’re talking about sometime next week, probably, that I can come back and play a game again,” Burakovsky said. “But it all depends on how I feel. Like I said, it’s day-to-day. Some days it hurts. Some days it feels better. So it's tough, really, to say an exact date.”
Tuesday was a good day—for his hand and his psyche.
“It’s been a good day for me,” he said. “I've been missing the boys. They’ve been on the road a lot and I’ve just been home. It’s been a couple of real tough weeks with [strength and conditioning coach] Mark Nemish, for sure. Skating with no pucks every day for an hour, it’s not a lot of fun. It’s really, really tough. I’m glad I’m past that right now and I'm looking forward to being with the team.”
Barry Trotz acknowledged that Burakovsky is progressing nicely, but the head coach declined to put a timeframe on the winger’s return.
“He was happy to see everybody; he’s been lonely,” Trotz cracked. “When I get the 'okay' for him, he’ll be back in the lineup. I don’t have a timeframe.”
Prior to getting hurt, Burakovsky was on a hot streak, having recorded 13 points (6 goals, 7 assists) in 12 games.
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