Washington Capitals Lose Nicklas Backstrom Due to Injury: Recap & Team Prospects

Nicklas Backstrom's

Washington Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom stepped away from the team after major hip surgery, and his future for the 2023-24 season is uncertain. GM Brian MacLellan provided updates on Backstrom’s condition and the impact on the team.

Key Takeaways:

  • Due to ongoing hip issues, Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom is unlikely to play again this season as he focuses on recovery.
  • Backstrom firmly denied reports suggesting his absence was due to a conflict with the coach, emphasizing his decision is health-related.
  • With Backstrom out, 2019 first-round pick Connor McMichael has taken on a bigger role at center despite not scoring since his position change.

Capitals GM Says Backstrom Unlikely to Play This Season

According to General Manager Brian MacLellan, Washington Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom, 36, is unlikely to return to play this season.

Backstrom stepped away from the team last week to focus on his recovery from major hip surgery performed in June 2022.

MacLellan, while addressing reporters, expressed the emotional impact of Backstrom’s situation on the team.

It’s emotional for everybody. He’s been such a big part of the organization,” he said. “It’s a tough situation, and eventually everybody’s got to move on.

Backstrom, who recorded one assist in eight games this season, has struggled to return to form post-surgery. In a statement released by the team, Backstrom shared his thoughts:

Given my ongoing injury situation, I decided to take some time and step away from the game. This is a difficult decision, but one that I feel is right for my health at this time.

Nicklas Backstrom Denies Conflict Rumors

Recent reports suggested that Backstrom’s absence was due to a conflict with head coach Spencer Carbery, not his injury.

Backstrom refuted these claims in an interview with Swedish publication Aftonbladet, stating, “That’s not true. There’s no truth in that.

The Capitals center emphasized the importance of focusing on his health and thanked his teammates, the organization, and the fans for their unwavering support.

Backstrom requested privacy as he determines his next steps and viable options for his future.

Nicklas Backstrom’s Career and Challenging Recovery

Backstrom, one of the most underrated players of the modern era, has had a remarkable career with the Capitals.

Since joining the league in the 2007-08 season, he has amassed impressive statistics: first in assists (722), second in power-play points (396), and fifth in points (980) over 1011 games until the end of the 2020-21 season.

Despite his efforts to recover, Backstrom has only scored 22 points in 47 games since his hip surgery.

You watch his progression here over the last two-plus years: playing hurt, numerous recovery attempts to get it better, then the hip resurfacing,” MacLellan said.

It’s been a long process that has been hard on him mentally and emotionally.”

Capitals Regroup as McMichael Steps into Larger Role

With Backstrom focusing on getting better, Connor McMichael, who was picked in the first round in 2019, has stepped up to play center.

McMichael hasn’t scored any points since moving to the center of Washington’s third line.

However, he was very important in helping the Hershey Bears win the Calder Cup championship last season and has scored three points in ten games this year.

McMichael acknowledges the challenge ahead: “I don’t think I’m going to be the guy that’s going to be able to just replace Nicklas Backstrom. I think it’s calling out the whole team that everybody needs to step up and bring a little extra, and hopefully that can fill that void.

Backstrom has one year left on his contract, with a cap hit of $9.2 million. The plan, as stated by MacLellan, is for him to remain on long-term injured reserve for the final year.

Backstrom has not made any decisions regarding his next steps or retirement, leaving his future with the Capitals uncertain.

In his tenure with the Capitals, Backstrom has left an indelible mark with 271 goals and 762 assists, totaling 1,033 points in 1,105 games.

His legacy in Washington is monumental, and his contributions will be remembered regardless of what the future holds.