Andre Burakovsky seems to finally be getting close to a return to the ice. Before his October 21st injury he was just beginning to round into shape, having scored his first goal of the season one game before being hurt. The Caps had high expectations for #65 in the first year of his new contract and his absence on the first line has been a serious detriment to the team. He skated hard on Saturday with trainers and took some light contact as well. He may be able to rejoin the team as early as next week.
Given Burakovsky’s imminent return, the question is where Trotz will decide to put him. The newly revamped top line of Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Wilson looks to have captured some magic, so Trotz may be loathe to break up that group. If he does, Wilson is the obvious choice to find himself demoted. The third and fourth lines have struggled of late (aside from a good showing on Saturday night) and could use a shot of energy, so #43 may find himself right back where he started despite playing well enough to earn a higher spot.
Burakovsky rejoining the team is certainly cause for celebration, but unfortunately the Caps forwards haven’t been able to all stay healthy at the same time. Chandler Stephenson, called up when Burakovsky got hurt, is now hurt himself. He left Saturday’s game with an as yet unspecified upper body injury and Travis Boyd was called up to give the team some depth at forward.
After being very healthy last year, these Capitals have been bitten hard by the injury bug. With Niskanen finally back and Burakovsky coming soon, some of the most impactful of those losses are at an end. The Metro division is whisper tight, so they’re going to need all their assets on the ice if they hope to stay competitive.