During his speech yesterday at the National Press Club, Coach Trotz fielded a question regarding the status of top-line centerman Nicklas Backstrom. In his response, somewhat surprisingly, Coach Trotz noted that the problem with Backstrom’s hip developed mid-season. The following are excerpts from Trotz’s speech, as transcribed by Alex Prewitt of the Washington Post:
“It wasn’t a problem probably until February, where Nick was having a little more problem and we had to monitor it a little bit more. We knew at the end of the season he was probably going to have to have something cleaned out”.
And so much for the validity of exit interviews. During his exit interview on 5/15/15, Nicklas Backstrom made no mention of any injury. He was asked point blank by CSN’s Jill Sorenson if he was banged up in the playoffs and Backstrom quickly responded with a resounding “no”. However, to his defense, Backstrom has never been a complainer or an “excuses-guy”. Trotz also went on to say during yesterday’s speech:
“I think with Nick, if he’s on schedule, which he is right now, he will be skating at training camp. Will he be in exhibition games? We don’t know where he’ll fit in there, but we’re hoping that’ll be the case. But we are also preparing , if Nick’s not ready to start the season, who fills that role? We’re starting to look at another centerman. If not, we can put Brooks Laich there, we signed Jay Beagle who to me is a real good signing for us, then we have young Burakovsky who I played a little bit at center, knowing these good, young players we have, they may have to fill those roles. Someone will have to step up.” (Transcription by Alex Prewitt/Washington Post)
For many Caps fans, to hear Brooks Laich mentioned as a solution to a missing Nicklas Backstrom is a heart-stopper. However, the likely scenario would see Evgeny Kuznetsov joining fellow Russian Alex Ovechkin and newly acquired T.J. Oshie making up the top line. How things fall in after that is still a bit murky.
The type of surgery that Backstrom had is becoming somewhat common in the NHL however, recovery times can vary significantly, anywhere from 3-6 months, and in some cases, even longer. Rumor’s at Kettler this week have the Caps looking to make one more move, and although not the preferred move, I would not be surprised if it is someone who can play the center position. In the long run, the surgery will help Backstrom prolong his career, the Caps just need to be prepared this fall to play without him during the early stages of the season.