Nicklas Backstrom eying season opener return after hip surgery

Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom is hoping to make his return from hip surgery in time for Washington’s season opener on Oct. 10. Backstrom underwent surgery shortly after the Capitals’ playoff run ended, and he was expected to miss five months.

There was some uncertainty surrounding the health of Nicklas Backstrom, but the Capitals center is hopeful he’ll be back on the ice when Washington opens its season on Oct. 10.

In an interview with Sverigesradio, a Swedish radio station, Backstrom said that he’s not certain quite yet that his injury will have him ready to go, but that he was staying positive about his chances of being in the lineup when the 2015-16 season kicks off.

“We will just have to wait and see how things go exactly,” Backstrom told Sverigesradio. “But of course I’m hoping that I will be ready for the start of the season.”

The initial diagnosis following Backstrom’s surgery, which took place shortly after the Capitals’ post-season run ended, was he could miss five months. Five months would have put his return date somewhere in the middle of October. That he’ll potentially be back a few weeks early would be huge for the Capitals lineup. It would be hard to find teams that wouldn’t love their first-line center back from injury as soon as possible.

Before having the surgery to repair an undisclosed hip injury, Backstrom had told Swedish outlet Gefle Dagblad he had, “been in pain since November sometime so we had to correct it.”

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“It is difficult to say how long it will take to get back, it’s a little different from individual to individual, but five months is something I heard,” Backstrom said following surgery. “Right now I’m working mainly with getting up movement in the hip again.”

In his recent interview with Sverigesradio, Backstrom added that he wasn’t, “tortured,” by the injury, but that he had felt the injury and wanted to correct it.

It’s unlikely Backstrom’s recovery has him on track for a return to Washington’s training camp or that he’ll play much in the preseason, if at all. But the Capitals were confident at the time of Backstrom’s surgery that they’d have him back in time for Oct. 10.

“Based on the nature of this procedure, we are confident that Nick will be completely healthy prior to the start of the 2015-16 regular season,” the Capitals said in a statement regarding Backstrom’s surgery.

This past season, Backstrom scored 18 goals and 78 points in 82 games, adding another three goals and eight points in 14 post-season contests. Backstrom’s 60 regular season assists were the most in the NHL and he finished sixth in the NHL’s scoring race.