The Otters’ top line. (Photo credit: Otters Twitter)
Washington Capitals first-round pick Andre Burakovsky scored two goals and recorded an assist in his Erie Otters’ debut against the Niagara IceDogs in the team’s first preseason game of the season. Throughout the game, Burakovsky, wearing number 95, took regular shifts with on the Otters’ first line, centered by 2015 draft top prospect Connor McDavid. On Burakovsky’s opposite wing was Leafs’ sixth-round pick Connor Brown. The trio combined for 14 points in a 6-3 drubbing of Niagara.
Burakovsky, McDavid and Brown’s first shift together. (Video credit: Victor Fernandes)
Both of Burakovsky’s goals came in the second period during which the Otters blew the game wide open, taking a commanding 5-0 lead.
Burakovsky’s first goal on North American soil. (Video credit: Victor Fernandes)
While his Otters debut was easy, his trip from Sweden to Erie earlier in the week was more challenging. The 18-year-old prospect, who described the trip as “pretty hard,” first flew from Sweden to Paris. When he tried to board his connecting flight to North America, they wouldn’t let him on the plane. After issues were worked out, Burakovsky bought a new ticket. After a long wait, he finally boarded another flight and made it to America. His luggage and gear, however, stayed in Paris.
“[My equipment] stayed there for awhile,” Burakovsky deadpanned to Victor Fernandes. “[It] likes Paris.”
Without equipment, Burakovsky was forced to sit out the first two days of his team’s camp. He was limited to just one scrimmage with his new teammates before the first game of the preseason on Saturday.
Burakovsky’s full interview. (Video credit: Victor Fernandes)
In his chat with reporters, Burakovsky also talked about the decision to come over to play for the Otters. His signing with Erie ended an almost two-month-long series of rumors and negotiations that reportedly involved teams from many leagues.
“It was very important for me to make the right decision,” Burakovsky explained to Victor Fernandes. “I was thinking a lot about it with my agent and my family, what’s best for me and stuff. I talked a lot with Washington, and they think it’s gonna be good for me to play in Erie in the OHL. So I decided to come over because I think I’ll play a lot here and will be a leader for the team. I think it can be really good for my future.”
The Austrian-born winger plans on leaving for Washington later this week to participate in Caps rookie camp, and, if all goes well, the big league training camp immediately after that. At least we know now that if Erie ends up being Burakovsky’s final destination this fall, it’s a league he’ll likely dominate.
Andre on the bench during his first scrimmage as an Otter. (Photo credit: Otters Twitter)
Additional reporting by Ian Oland.