Capitals prospect Andre Burakovsky could leave Sweden, join OHL

Bruce Bennett

The Capitals want 2013 first-round pick Andre Burakovsky to play in North America, but he's yet to make up his mind about potentially leaving Sweden.

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- While some of the Swedish prospects the Capitals have drafted in recent years have honed their game in their home country before coming over to North America, Washington may be looking to make a change with its latest first-round Swedish product Andre Burakovsky.

According to Burakovsky, Washington is looking to get the 23rd overall selection in June's draft playing in the Ontario Hockey League this season rather than playing in the Swedish League.

"I'm thinking to move over and play with the Erie Otters, because they drafted me," Burakovsky said Sunday at USA Hockey's Junior Evaluation Camp. "I had a nice talk with Washington too, and they said they think it's good to play in Erie and learn the game in the small rink and play with [Erie goaltender and Jackets prospect] Oscar Dansk."

While the Capitals have taken some Swedish players in the first round in recent years, Nicklas Backstrom, Marcus Johansson and Filip Forsberg all spent a season in Sweden after being selected. Forsberg eventually was traded to Nashville at this year's trade deadline for Martin Erat.

Certainly, the move to the NHL-size rink and the North American style of play would be a factor in opting to come over to the OHL, as the winger will adjust to having less space to maneuver and the more physical style of play.

Burakovsky said he is happy with his training over the summer, and enjoyed visiting Washington in last month's development camp.

"I'm training hard with my personal trainer," he said. "I think the camp was really fun. The camp was really good for me to train on the small rink, so I think the camp was really good."

Burakovsky was impressive in his first game with the Swedish club, scoring a goal in a 4-2 win over USA Hockey's white team.

"It was nice to make a goal, get a good pass from Jake on the power play," he said. "I was happy, first goal on the U20 team."

For now, Burakovsky's goals for next year are to try to play on the Swedish World Junior squad, with this year's tournament being held in Malmo.

And, after this week, he will decide on where he'll be skating next year -- in Sweden or Erie.

"I haven't made a decision yet," he said. "I'm waiting after the tournament then make a decision."

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