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Backstrom's status creates uncertainty for Burakovsky


Backstrom's status creates uncertainty for Burakovsky

The injury to Nicklas Backstrom has perhaps had no greater impact on any one player on the Caps than it has on Andre Burakovsky. Backstrom's return will not just affect which line Burakovsky will play, but also which position.

With Backstrom expected to miss the first four to five game of the season, Burakovsky will begin the season at center on the second line. When Backstrom returns he will take back his place on the first line and Evgeny Kuznetsov will move back to the second.

But with Jay Beagle and Michael Latta expected to center the third and fourth lines respectively, what will happen to Burakovsky?

"I haven't really thought about that yet," Burakovsky said. "We take one game at a time."

Burakovsky entered his rookie season last year as a center as the team tried to develop both Kuznetsov and Burakovsky in the middle. The plan proved ambitious and Burakovsky was eventually moved back to wing. Now, Burakovsky is once again slated to start the season in the middle, but again, is expected to be moved back to wing.

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"I don't really know what's going to happen, but I'll probably move back to wing," Burakovsky said.

Brian MacLellan, who was adamant over the summer that he felt Burakovsky had the skills to be a great center, also conceded that moving Burakovsky was a likely outcome once Backstrom returns.

"I think we're going to keep the options open, but I would assume that's where he'd go," MacLellan told reporters on Tuesday.

Given Burakovsky's skill set and that the team clearly sees potential for him to be a center, the move may come as a surprise to some. The differences of the two positions and the responsibilities that come with each, however, requires a bit more development from the 20-year-old forward before he can really embrace a move to center full time.

When talking about the position, Burakovsky said "you have a lot more responsibility. You have to be a lot more patient in your own zone. You always got to help out the D in the middle and give them a support guy. It's a lot more responsibility."

The patience and responsibility that comes with the position is just not something Burakovksy's is ready for at this point.

"I think I like winger a little bit better because I'm a guy that likes speed," Burakovsky said. "I just want to take off with the puck and at center I just have to be a little bit more patient and slow it down a little."

You can't blame a 20-year-old for struggling to develop patience, but it's something he knows he needs to and can handle in the future.

When asked whether he sees himself as more of a wing or a center he said, "Right now, wing. Future, center."

But while there is every indication that Burakovsky will be moving back to wing, the point was stressed that no final decision had been made just yet.

"We didn't make any decisions about that yet, but had a little bit of a discussion with [head coach Barry] Trotz about it and we'll see," said Burakovsky.

"We'll probably deal with that at the time," Trotz said. "Let's just get Nick back."

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Capitals stars react to losing Barry Trotz as head coach

Capitals stars react to losing Barry Trotz as head coach

LAS VEGAS—Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom weren’t expecting to lose their head coach less than two weeks after winning the Stanley Cup.

But business is business, Ovi said, and Barry Trotz is handling his by attempting to capitalize on claiming the championship.

“It’s sad,” Ovechkin said on the red carpet at the NHL Awards, where he accepted his seventh Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy on Wednesday night. “Obviously, we won together.”

The Caps’ captain also thanked Trotz for directing him—and his teammates—to new heights.  

“First of all, [I want to] thank him for a great job to be our coach, to be our dad, to give us a chance to win,” Ovechkin said. “But then again, it’s a business. You never know what’s going to happen. I’m pretty sure he’s going to be fine and I wish him luck.”

Backstrom, meanwhile, said he was caught off guard by Trotz’s decision to step down over a contract stalemate with the team. Trotz asked for $5 million per for five seasons; the Caps balked over the terms Trotz’s camp sought.   

“I was a little surprised, obviously,” Backstrom said. “I heard the scenario.”

Like Ovechkin, though, Backstrom praised the job Trotz did during his four-year tenure.

“He’s done a great job in Washington,” Backstrom said. “We obviously have him to thank for a lot. He’s done a tremendous job of schooling us and winning a championship. No one is going to take that away from him.”

Trotz’s next move is unclear, but he’s a free agent and currently eligible to negotiate with any team. The Islanders are the only team with an opening for a head coach.

As for Washington, GM Brian MacLellan said that associate coach Todd Reirden will get the first crack at replacing Trotz.

Ovechkin said he thinks Reirden would be a good fit.

“We all respect Todd,” Ovechkin said. “We all like him. Again, it’s not our thing to say who’s going to be head coach, but if it’s going to be Todd, it’s going to be fun.”


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A drawing of the moment Ovi lifted the Stanley Cup makes the moment joyful all over again

Daniel Duffy on Twitter/@RealArtOfWords

A drawing of the moment Ovi lifted the Stanley Cup makes the moment joyful all over again

How do you make a photo of Alex Ovechkin hoisting the Stanley Cup for the first time even more memorable?

You make it out of all the Capitals' game scores this year, of course.

Capitals fan and artist Daniel Duffy (@RealArtOfWords) posted a phenomenal finished piece commemorating the Cup win on Wednesday, June 20. It's a little meta and astounding to look at, but very fun to try and read. If you want to relive the glory that was the parts of the 2017-18 Capitals season, check out the piece.

The piece, which appears to be done in a traditional medium like pen or marker, holds the team faced, arena played at, and final score of every game. It uses six colors and over sixty lines of text. Ovechkin roars as he holds the Stanley Cup overhead, the white away jersey shaded with bits of grey text. It takes a skilled eye to sort text and colors into shapes and shading, but Daniel did a fantastic job! It's awesome to see a fanbase create different interpretations of iconic moments. We'll surely see more of Ovechkin in this moment.

Just as we thought we were going to get tired of the celebration, fans find new ways to surprise us. Stay creative, Caps fans!