A return for Andre Burakovsky could be coming very, very soon. Though he will not be playing in Monday’s game against the San Jose Sharks, the Swedish winger did participate in the morning skate and said he will practice with the team on Tuesday.
How he feels and looks in practice will determine just how quickly he returns to game action.
“We'll get a couple practices in him and see where he is after that, but he's getting closer,” Barry Trotz said after Monday’s morning skate. “I think his date is next week, early next week is the original date. I think he's on schedule if not ahead of schedule.”
Burakovsky has not played since he broke his thumb against the Florida Panthers on Oct. 21. His projected return was mid-December, but he told the media he believes he may be ahead of schedule.
“All the x-rays have been looking really good, it's been healing real proper,” Burakovsky said. “I think we looked into I was maybe going to play in the next week here, but we'll see. We'll see when I'm playing next game, but our timeframe goes into next week.”
While out, Burakovsky has been doing drills on the ice with strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish. His return to the lineup, however, will depend on several other factors outside of his conditioning.
“You can skate all you want at ‘Camp Nemo’ and do all the drills, but you've got to be out there with guys moving around,” Trotz said. “It's easy skating in circles in small areas, but he has to make plays when people are trying to hit you. There's a lot going on, you tend to lose all your detail when you're out for a while. Instead of staying on the wall, you just start filtering into the middle. Just systematically, you're not as sharp.”
Cleaning up the details and working on his timing at practice, as well as getting full clearance from the doctors, are the only hurdles left standing between Burakovsky and his return.
Tuesday and Thursday will provide Burakovsky two opportunities to practice, but it seems optimistic to believe he could return for Friday’s game. More likely, he will be back in the lineup sometime next week when the team will play four games: at the N.Y. Islanders on Monday, home against Colorado on Tuesday, at Boston on Thursday and home against Anaheim on Saturday.
If Burakovsky remains on schedule, chances are we will see him back in the lineup sometime during that stretch.
This marks the second straight season in which a hand injury has taken Burakovsky out of the lineup, something that is not lost on him.
"I really like soft gloves so I'm always bending them a lot before I use them," he said. "I'm probably going to stop doing that now."