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Burakovsky to return for Capitals against Rangers on Friday

Forward missed 20 games with fractured left thumb

by Tom Gulitti @tomgulittinhl / Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Forward Andre Burakovsky will return to the Washington Capitals' lineup when they host the New York Rangers on Friday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVA Sports, NBCSWA, MSG, NHL.TV) after missing 20 games with a fractured left thumb.

"He's excited to be back," coach Barry Trotz said Thursday. "He's a good young player. If he comes out and skates and does the right things that we expect him to do, then he can have an impact on the game. But he's a good young player who has a lot of assets that can help us win hockey games."

Burakovsky was injured in a 4-1 loss to the Florida Panthers on Oct. 21 and had surgery on the thumb three days later. Burakovsky returned to practice with the Capitals on Tuesday; he skated on the third line with Brett Connolly and Lars Eller on Thursday.

"I was hoping [to play] maybe the game before [a 6-2 win against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday], but I needed a couple more practices," Burakovsky said. "I haven't been skating with pucks or shooting for a while. My game timing at the first practice was really off. When we did the 2-on-1s, I was far behind and went offside once., so that wasn't great. The last few practices here, it's been really good. I've been feeling really good; skating good, stickhandling, shooting really well. I told [Trotz] I feel like I'm ready, and he said I could play Friday. I'm excited. It's going to be fun."

Burakovsky had four points (one goal, three assists) in nine games before the injury. The Capitals re-signed the 22-year-old to a two-year, $6 million contract on July 4 after he had 35 points (12 goals, 23 assists) in 64 games last season.

However, right wing T.J. Oshie is expected to miss his second straight game because of an upper-body injury sustained in the Capitals' 4-1 win against the San Jose Sharks on Monday. Trotz said Oshie is "feeling better" but doesn't know when he'll return to practice.

To open enough salary cap space to activate Burakovsky from long-term injured reserve, the Capitals assigned forward Travis Boyd to Hershey of the American Hockey League and placed forward Tyler Graovac on waivers Thursday with the intention of sending him to Hershey.

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