Capitals

Capitals

Andre Burakovsky continues to inch toward a return to the Capitals’ lineup.

The latest indication that he’s getting close? On Saturday, Burakovsky hit the ice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex with strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish, a couple of skaters and a goaltender.

As you can see, Burakovsky, who suffered a broken left thumb Oct. 21 and had surgery three days later, is beginning to ramp up his workouts. Saturday’s 45-minute skate included some stick-checking and as well as a little light contact.

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The original prognosis was that Burakovsky would miss six to eight weeks. It’s now looking like he’ll be on the shorter side of that window. In fact, he could return to practice in the next week or so, assuming there’s no setback.

“Not really clear but I do know that he’s skating and he’s handling some pucks,” Coach Barry Trotz said Friday. “The strength in the area, the region, is getting much stronger. We shook hands the other day, so it’s coming.”

The challenge for Burakovsky isn’t conditioning—he’s been skating for three weeks and handling pucks now for several days—it’s regaining his timing and being able to unload 100-percent on his shot.

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The progress to this point has been slow and steady. Saturday’s session, though, represented a breakthrough as he felt more comfortable and confident than previous on-ice workouts.   

Prior to getting hurt, Burakovsky had a goal and three assists in nine games. The Caps are currently carrying 22 players (one under the max) but will still have to move someone in order to accommodate Burakovsky's $3 million cap hit.