- The Washington Times - Monday, December 4, 2017

Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky will return to practice Tuesday for the first time since undergoing surgery to repair his fractured thumb on Oct. 24. He skated with the team on Monday.

Burakovsky had been doing conditioning drills for the last few weeks, but Monday marked his first appearance alongside the rest of his teammates. Burakovsky has missed the Capitals’ last 18 games and originally had a time frame of missing 6-8 weeks.

Burakovsky said he was rusty with his timing, considering his time off.

“It’s kind of like starting all over a little bit,” Burakovsky said. “So, I just have to get back. I’m probably not going to get back in the lineup until I feel really comfortable with my timing and my shot and stickhandling.”

Capitals coach Barry Trotz said Burakovsky could return next week, but had to get “some team reps” in first. 

“We’ll get a couple of practices and see where he is after that, but he’s getting closer,” Trotz said. “I think his [return] date is next week, early next week. I think he’s on schedule, if not ahead of schedule.”

When he returns, Burakovsky will slot into the Capitals’ top nine, likely on the third line next to Lars Eller and either Chandler Stephenson or Brett Connolly. Right now, Stephenson is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. 

Burakovsky, 22, has one goal and three assists in nine games this season for the Capitals. He also missed 15 games last season with a broken hand.

“All the X-rays have been looking really good and it’s been healing really proper,” Burakovsky said.

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