Andre Burakovsky has been in Washington for a little more than a week now, having arrived not long after the Capitals selected him 23rd overall in the NHL draft. But since development camp started, the 18-year-old has been under the wing of fellow first-round draft pick Tom Wilson.
Burakovsky and Wilson are rooming together during the week-long camp. Wilson, who is quite familiar with the team’s practice facility and Ballston area thanks to his time with the Capitals in the playoffs last spring, is showing the young forward around, making sure they arrive at the rink on time. And apparently Wilson has shown Burakovsky the highlights of North American cuisine.
“He made me macaroni and cheese, we don’t have that in Sweden,” Burakovsky said with a smile.
Burakovsky, a 6-foot-1, 178-pound left wing, was characterized as a longer-term prospect by General Manager George McPhee at the draft last month and is at least two years away from competing for an NHL roster spot.
Where he will spend the next few years developing, though, remains to be determined, Burakovsky said. He’s spent his entire playing career in Sweden and could continue there, but he was recently selected by the Erie Otters in the CHL import draft and could decide to move to North America.
“It’s a really tough decision. I don’t really know yet where I should play next year,” Burakovsky said. “I have some offers in Sweden; now I have Erie, too. It’s a hard decision to make where I should play next year.”
He’s looking to the Capitals for guidance on what the best course of action would be and is slated to discuss options with McPhee at the end of camp, before weighing the decision with his family once he returns home to Sweden.
“I don’t know so much about the league over here in USA and Canada,” Burakovsky said. “Washington knows the league better, so I really hope they will help me a lot with this and that’s why I should talk to them because they know the league better than me.”
Earlier this week, Burakovsky’s agent, Kevin Epp, told the Hockey News that the 18-year-old intended to stay in Sweden next season but wasn’t definitive when contacted by The Post.
“There are many factors to consider in this decision based on the Washington Capitals and on Andre,” Epp wrote in an e-mail. “We will see what happens in the weeks ahead.”
While Burakovsky is expected to take a few more years to develop, he’s hoping he can show the organizational brass that he’s willing to learn, improve and work his way into a place with the Capitals down the road.
“It’s a very big moment for me to be here,” Burakovsky said. “It feels really good to have the jersey on, but so far I’m not an NHL player, I’m just a drafted guy. So I want to go out there and show the coach and the GM that I have some skills that not a lot of guys have. I want to improve a lot.”