Quick Links

Caps' Burakovsky takes next step in his recovery Sunday

Caps' Burakovsky takes next step in his recovery Sunday

Andre Burakovsky took another next step in his recovery from a broken right hand Sunday when he joined members of Washington's training and equipment staff for a small ice scrimmage at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.

Burakovsky did not go all out, but for nearly an hour he skated hard, handled the puck and made crisp passes. He also took several shots, though he appeared reluctant or unable to fire the puck as hard as he normally does.

Although the session was non-contact in nature, Burakovsky went hard enough that he made some incidental contact. He even went down a few times.

As he came off the ice afterward, he said his hand felt good and added that he hopes to join his teammates for practice in the coming week. He also acknowledged that the decision will ultimately be made by the team’s medical staff.

The third line winger has missed the Caps’ last 12 games.

The original prognosis was for Burakovsky to be sidelined until mid or to late March. The 22-year-old did not need surgery and had the cast removed on March 2.

Coach Barry Trotz said recently that he remains on schedule.

Burakovsky has been skating with strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish for several weeks. He has yet, however, to practice with his teammates. His next opportunity to join the group will be Tuesday when the Caps hit the ice in Arlington for a morning skate ahead of hosting Bruce Boudreau and the Wild at Verizon Center.

Quick Links

Justin Williams, Caps aren't having 'in-depth discussions' with free agency looming

Justin Williams, Caps aren't having 'in-depth discussions' with free agency looming

Capitals free agent forward Justin Williams told his agent he's "going dark" today because he's on the golf course, playing in the Quicken Loans Pro-Am at TPC Potomac. But Caps fans managed to find him anyway, asking for an autograph and making a plea to stay in Washington.

Williams, who will turn 36 in October, just completed the second of a two-year deal with Washington but said he's not sure where he'll end up next season.

"I really can't give a number on what percentage I'm here staying, what percentage I'm leaving," Williams said. "I'm not sure. We haven't had very in-depth discussions with Washington so far, so we'll see."

RELATED: What does the Copley deal mean for Grubauer?

Williams is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and is currently going through the league's interview process until that day.

"It's a very humbling process, people vying for your services, and you know, you just want to be wanted and it's an interesting time, but it will be all clear in the next few days."

Teammate John Carlson will be playing alongside Williams in the Pro-Am and added that he believes "enough teams will probably be in on him, so that's the first and foremost important thing, in terms of being able to be on a good team."

Don't expect any news today, though, Williams is focused on his golf game.

MORE CAPITALS: Caps re-sign Copley as their No. 3 goalie

Quick Links

With Copley re-signed, does that mean the Caps are ready to part with Grubauer?

With Copley re-signed, does that mean the Caps are ready to part with Grubauer?

The Capitals are a team in need of a top-four defenseman after the departure of Nate Schmidt to Vegas. One option to address that need is a trade, a trade that may have gotten that much easier for Washington to make with the re-signing of goalie Pheonix Copley on Wednesday.

Philipp Grubauer, the current backup to Braden Holtby, appears to be the team’s biggest trade asset. Holtby is a Vezina caliber goalie signed through the 2019-20 season. The team also boasts one of the top goalie prospects in the world in Ilya Samsonov who is expected to be Washington’s future starter. That means Grubauer, who looks ready to start now, is expendable.

RELATED: Gersich has eye on NHL after breakout season

Or at least, he would be if the team had another viable option at backup.

The Pittsburgh Penguins showed how important having a dependable backup can be as they had to call upon Marc-Andre Fleury for 15 games in the playoffs when starter Matt Murray suffered an injury. For a Capitals team still hoping their championship window has not officially closed, they cannot go into next season without a plan for who their No. 2 may be.

Enter Copley, who signed a two-year contract extension with Washington on Wednesday.

The Capitals thought enough of Copley that after trading him to the St. Louis Blues in 2015 in the T.J. Oshie deal, they reacquired him this season in the Kevin Shattenkirk trade. He enjoyed a dominant stint in his return Hershey and is someone assistant general Ross Mahoney believes is ready to “take a shot” at filling the backup role behind Holtby.

But when will he get that opportunity? Grubauer, a current restricted free agent, will likely either return on a bridge contract or be traded. The problem for Washington is that the current market for goalies in the NHL is a buyers market. There are very few teams who actually need a goalie and there are plenty of options to fill that need. The Caps have a budding starter in Grubauer who they are not going to give away free so they may just bide their time until a trade partner emerges rather than rush a trade to address their need for a defenseman.

Copley's contract seems to account for that possibility as it is a two-way deal the first year and one-way the second, meaning in the second year of his contract he will be earning an NHL salary regardless of whether he is in the AHL or NHL.

Re-signing Copley does not mean a Grubauer trade is imminent, but it does answer the question of who the Caps could potentially replace him with behind Holtby if a trade does happen.

MORE CAPITALS: Nathan Walker is 'as close as anybody' to being NHL ready