Capitals’ Burakovsky set to compete for roster spot

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When the Washington Capitals selected Andre Burakovsky with the 23rd overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, the Austrian-born forward already had gotten used to playing with men in Sweden’s second-tier league. What he lacked was North American experience.

Burakovsky decided to remedy that by playing for the OHL Erie Otters last season and while he thought his first few games went “really, really bad,” he was able to make the adjustment. In the end, he scored 41 goals and 87 points in 57 games.

“What really separated him was his wrist shot when he was on the rush,” Erie coach Kris Knoblauch said, per NHL.com. “He scored numerous goals just using the defenseman as a screen and shooting it through his legs and beating the goaltender. With his wrist shot that’s certainly something that the other players, as good as they were, couldn’t do.”

Now that he’s used to playing in North America, Burakovsky will head into the Washington Capitals’ training camp with a shot of making the team’s opening game roster, especially with Tom Wilson’s (leg) availability for the start of the season uncertain. Capitals coach Barry Trotz hasn’t gotten a chance to know Burakovsky yet, but assistant general manager Ross Mahoney is excited to see what Burakovsky can do during training camp.

“Andre’s definitely on the right path,” Mahoney said. “Very, very pleased with his progression.”