Roughly a month ago – after the CHL Import Draft – the idea of Washington Capitals first rounder Andre Burakovsky joining the Erie Otters seemed slim.
His father, former NHLer Robert Burakovsky, voiced his displeasure over the Otters claiming his son with the fifth overall import pick. His North American agent, Kevin Epp, told The Hockey News that his client would be staying at home in Sweden.
On Thursday, however, the Erie Otters announced that Burakovsky will report to the OHL club - if and when he's assigned there by the Washington Capitals.
“It’s a great day for Erie Otter hockey,” said Otters' GM Sherry Bassin in a statement. "
"He is a very special talent and a key addition to help lead the Otters to a successful season.”
The Caps signed the 18-year-old forward to a three-year deal on Thursday meaning that as their first-round pick, they'll decide where he plays next season. As a result, the Swedish youngster has resigned himself to his fate.
"It can be the AHL and it may be that I go to Erie," Burakovsky told the Swedish blog MrMadhawk.se. "It is Washington that will determine now, what's best for me." [via google translate]
The Otters were in contact regularly with Capitals and both Bassin and assistant GM Dave Brown were in attendance at the four-nation world junior evaluation camp in Lake Placid two weeks ago where Burakovsky skated for Sweden.
"I know where Washington wants him and that's here," said Bassin in an interview with Y! Sports in early July.
This signing is a coup for the Otters and small market teams in general. Shortly after the CHL Import Draft it was alleged that Burakovsky had cut a deal with another OHL and was disappointed in being selected by the Otters.
Burakovsky's father, Robert was quoted as saying his son was expecting to play for the Windsor Spitfires this season. Instead when the Otters took Burakovsky with the higher pick, the Spitfires chose Sweden's Jacob de la Rose instead.
I can confirm that we have had requests for Windsor, the same team that now instead chose Jacob De La Rose said Robert Burakovsky, who came home to Sweden today. [via Google Translate]
The Otters gambled, called the bluff and won now that Burakovsky has signed.
The 6-foot-1, 180-pound winger will now join fellow Swede Oscar Dansk as the imports in Erie. The pair played together for Sweden at the world under-18 championship in 2012, where they won silver. They were also together for Sweden's summer WJC evaluation camp.
“He is an elite player with exceptional skill," said Otters coach Kris Knoblauch. "Andre will complement our forward group and add to our scoring punch.”