Nicklas Backstrom had an incredible season for the Washington Capitals, but the star pivot says he had been playing on a bad hip since early in the 2014-15 season. Following surgery to repair the ailment, there could be a long road of rehab ahead for the one-time 100-point scorer.
In an interview with Swedish news outlet Gefle Dagblad, Backstrom said the type of hip injury he suffered and the subsequent surgery has no definite timetable for full recovery, but he has heard that he could be sidelined for up to five months. Right now, Backstrom told the Gefle Dagblad, he’s simply trying to get back to normal.
“I have been in pain since November sometime so we had to correct it,” Backstrom said. “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. Right now I'm working mainly with getting up movement in the hip again.”
The surgery, Backstrom said, took place shortly after May 27, when Washington was eliminated from the post-season. Five months on the sideline would put Backstrom’s recovery date sometime in late October or early November.
This past season, Backstrom scored 18 goals and 78 points, playing in all 82 games for the Capitals. His 78 points were the sixth highest total in the NHL, just nine fewer than Art Ross Trophy winner Jamie Benn’s 87 points. In the playoffs, Backstrom added another three goals and eight points in 14 games.
With the Capitals coming off of a post-season exit that was much earlier than they had hoped – they were one win away from moving on to the Eastern Conference final before dropping three straight games to the New York Rangers – losing Backstrom is far from good news. Now, they could be forced to start the upcoming season without their first-line center and one half of their outstanding duo of Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin.
The upcoming off-season is going to be one of great change for the Capitals, too. Backstrom’s injury won’t be the only hole down the middle as Eric Fehr is also set to become an unrestricted free agent this season. At center, behind Backstrom on the depth chart, are Evgeny Kuznetsov, a restricted free agent this summer, Brooks Laich and Michael Latta.
Washington will have roughly $20 million to spend this off-season, but will also need to lock up RFA starting goaltender Braden Holtby and at least a pair of defensemen for the upcoming season.