A look at what the best new lines could look like without Nicklas Backstrom

Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports
Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports /

There was some big news yesterday as the Washington Capitals learned that Nicklas Backstrom is stepping away from the game for the time being. We don’t know how long he will be out. We don’t know if he’s going to retire. That decision is up to the longtime center himself.

Backstrom will go on IR and then soon most likely long term injured reserve or LTIR for short. Once he does the Caps will have $9.2 million in salary cap space. They could make a move for someone in the top six.

But in the meantime these were the lines they rolled out in yesterday’s practice following Backstrom’s announcement to his teammates. Today’s morning skate was an optional. Here were the lines and what they could look like tonight against the New York Islanders, via Tarik El-Bashir of Monumental Sports Network.







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Backstrom spent a bulk of the brief eight games that he played in the third line center position. Now Connor McMichael occupies that third line center spot. McMichael is a natural center but started the season on the wing. But McMichael’s talent as a prospect came from center.

Hendrix Lapierre centers the fourth line with Nic Dowd still out with an injury. When Dowd comes back, he’ll be back on that fourth line. Having McMichael and Lapierre center the bottom six brings speed and quickness in passing. It could help boost the Caps.

But being without Backstrom, a guy who gave his all to the Caps throughout the last decade and a half of his career will hurt. You never want to see a player have to step away. You want a hard working guy like Backstrom to retire on his own terms, not due to a hip injury.

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But let me stress this. Backstrom did NOT say he was retiring. He’s just taking a break. The hip got worse and he wasn’t moving the same following his surgery in the summer of 2022. You want him to be able to spend time with his family throughout the healing process and that’s exactly what he’s going to do.