Andre Burakovsky felt a little tired after his Erie Otters’ on-ice debut Friday. Yet the lingering jet lag didn’t keep him from showcasing his skills.
He created scoring chances, and the first signs of chemistry with new linemates Connor Brown and Connor McDavid, in the team’s final scrimmage of camp at Mercyhurst Ice Center.
“It was really good,” said Burakovsky, the fifth overall pick in the 2013 CHL Import Draft, whose fluid skating, movement without the puck, stick-handling skills and big shot were on display. “Everything didn’t work out 100 percent, but it will get better every day. Hopefully it will be better (today).”
He missed the morning practice because his equipment, which had an extended layover in Paris, didn’t arrive until Friday afternoon. His gear arrived in the United States last night, but it was too late to participate in workouts on Thursday. He finally joined teammates on the ice two days after arriving in Erie. “It was a long time ago,” said Burakovsky, the Washington Capitals’ first-round pick in the recent NHL Entry Draft.
* Evans injured: C Jake Evans was helped off the ice with a right knee injury during the morning practice. Evans, whose 2012-13 season ended early with a knee injury, was evaluated by team doctors Friday. Sherry Bassin, managing partner and general manager, said he wouldn’t have test results until today. Evans was unavailable for comment Friday. He spent the scrimmage with his knee heavily wrapped in ice.
* Something to lose: Bassin said RW Thomas Lattavo (2012 sixth-round pick) has a spot on the roster, but he has to keep performing well to hold onto it. That’s been the mindset all along, Lattavo said. “I’m going to make a good impression. I’m sure they’re going to be happy with me,” said Lattavo, who made his OHL debut as a call-up late last season. “I feel more confident. I feel like I fit in really well. I’m not too worried about breaking through.”
Lattavo said his time with the Otters a season ago has given him an advantage over other prospects. “I came in with a little bit more confidence and more of a (knowledge of) what to expect,” he said. “Nerves (are) what’s going to kill all the kids. There’s really no room for error.”
* On the cusp: D Patrick Murphy (5th round, 2011) figures this could be his last legitimate chance to earn a spot. “I’m going to try to do everything it takes to do that,” said Murphy, who signed with the club two years ago but only played in Erie briefly the past two seasons. Murphy was cut from camp the past two years.
Unlike those seasons, he’s not taking anything for granted. “This year I know anything is possible,” he said. “I’m just going to work hard and hopefully make it this time.”
UPDATE: Lattavo survived the second round of cuts late Friday night. But he has chosen to leave camp after choosing not to accept the club’s decision to make him an enforcer.
* On the cusp, Part II: C Quentin Maksimovich (11th round, 2012) said he belongs among the top 25 players at camp. If Evans misses extended time (as well as Lattavo’s departure), that could clear a spot for Maksimovich to at least begin the season with the team. “I feel pretty comfortable out on the ice,” he said. “I’m making some plays.”
It’s challenging to try to earn a spot on a team filled with veterans, he said. “I’m just trying not to focus on it,” he said. “I’m just going to try to stay relaxed (and) just keep doing my thing. (I’ll) try not to worry about it. If it happens, it happens.”
- Victor Fernandes