André Burakovsky has been a healthy scratch during the past four games. He is expected to be a healthy scratch again tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins. During the 29 games he has played this season, he has recorded five goals and three assists. He has been a starter for the whole season until being scratched in Dec. 8 game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Why has he been a healthy scratch recently?
The depth in skill that the Washington Capitals have this year is incredible. Due recent injuries, such as TJ Oshie being out for more than 10 games and Tom Wilson who missed four, the lines had to be shifted. During the absence of the two top line right-wingers, Todd Reirden moved Burakovsky up to fill that void. The opening of the right-wing spot on the fourth-line resulted in the call up of Travis Boyd from the Capitals AHL affiliate team, the Hershey Bears. Boyd would originally take the center spot of Evgeny Kuznestov, but when Kuznestov healed from his concussion he was moved to the fourth-line right-wing spot.
In his 16 games that he has played this season, he has scored three goals and seven assists. Since his latest recall to the NHL, Boyd has recorded three goals. His first NHL goal came in the Dec. 8 game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, where he also recorded an assist. Due to his recent performance, he has cemented his spot on the fourth-line.
With both Oshie and Wilson returning to their prospective spots on the top two lines, Burakovsky is the odd-man out. The right-wing and left-wing of the third and fourth lines have been set due to the effective offensive production by the pairings in recent games. Devante Smith-Pelly is the third-line right-winger and Boyd is the fourth-line right-winger.
Regarding the Burakovsky situation, Reirden said, “The players are making it difficult for our staff to pick the guys that should be playing each night and that’s a good thing. That internal competition that we have going on right now is something that’s allowed us to have the type of success we’ve had the last 24,25 games.”
In a Dec. 17 article, J.J. Regan, a reporter for NBCSN Washington, said, “Burakovsky is doing everything right in practice to get back in the lineup. The problem is that so are his teammates.”
What is the future looking like for Burakovsky?
Since Burakovsky has become a healthy scratch in the last few games, there have been rumors of team possibly looking to trade for the talented young winger. The first team that has expressed interest was the Vancouver Canucks, who acquired fourth-line centerman Jay Beagle from the Capitals this past offseason.
The Capitals will most likely keep Burakovsky as he was a first-round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft. Burakovsky’s speed and stick handling are what the Capitals should take advantage of. Burakovsky could turn into a top player on the team as he is only twenty-three and is still developing. He is also a reliable back up in the case of more injuries during the season.