On Monday after practice Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan held court with the local media. Of course the biggest question on everyone’s mind is if and when Nicklas Backstrom would return.
Last week on Wednesday the Caps and Backstrom announced that the longtime center was stepping away from the game. This is due to lingering issues with his hip since surgery in the summer of 2022.
MacLellan was blunt today when it came to Backstrom saying that he is unlikely to play the rest of this season.
“I would say it’s unlikely at this point but, we’ll play it out here a little bit,” said MacLellan.
GMBM found out about it when he got a phone call from his center that he wanted to meet.
MacLellan explained, “We met Monday morning and he made a decision and explained it to me. That was it.”
The Caps looked internally for players to replace Backstrom on the bottom six with Connor McMichael moving from wing to center which is the young buck’s natural position.
"“I don’t know if we can describe how much he’s meant. …The way he handles himself off the ice and on the ice, that’s a big part of our success and our culture that we’ve had over the years here.”"
The news is bad but it comes as no surprise. In the end it was a hard decision in the short term for Backstrom but in the long run it’s certainly the right decision.
MacLellan said while Backstrom won’t be on the ice, he hopes his center will be able to join the team when he is ready. Just being around the Capitals and being a support for his teammates as well as Alex Ovechkin would be encouraging.
Backstrom is expected to go to LTIR soon. When he does it’ll free up some cap space but he’ll still get paid.