The Washington Capitals assigned rookie forward Andre Burakovsky to the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League on Friday.
Burakovsky, Washington's 2013 first-round draft pick, parlayed an impressive development camp, rookie camp, training camp and preseason into an opening-night roster spot. His inclusion was made even more noteworthy by his successful transition to center, an organizational experiment implemented this summer.
After a torrid start that saw him record eight points in his first nine games, Burakovsky has significantly cooled. The 19-year-old, despite still leading the Capitals with 2.07 even-strength points per 60 minutes, has five points in 17 November and December games. Burakovsky has been a healthy scratch in five of Washington's past eight games, his ice time plummeting to as low as 5:37 and mostly hovering around 10 minutes. In the three games he has played in, Burakovsky has not been trusted in late-game situations, taking six total third-period shifts.
Coach Barry Trotz had been adamant about Burakovsky working through the rough patch in his development with the Capitals, recently balking at the idea of loaning him to Sweden for the World Junior Championships later this month. Thursday, however, Trotz vocalized potentially sending Burakovsky to the minors for the first time this season.
“If he’s not playing in the next games here on a fairly regular basis,” Trotz told reporters after Washington's morning skate in Columbus, "then I’m going to have him go to Hershey for a bit and play lots of minutes.”
Burakovsky will play for the Bears on Friday against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
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