Nicklas Backstrom “Unlikely” To Play Again This Season

Washington Capitals president of hockey operations and general manager Brian MacLellan met with the media today following Monday’s practice. This was the first time the Caps GM held a press conference since the news came that Nicklas Backstrom would be stepping away from the game to address his health. 

Backstrom called MacLellan on Nov. 1 to ask if they could meet, and that is when he delivered the news saying he would be stepping away. When asked by’s Tom Gulitti as to whether No. 19 could possibly return to the lineup, MacLellan said that it is unlikely.

RELATED: Capitals React To Nicklas Backstrom’s Decision To Step Away From The Game

“It’s a tough one. You watch his progression here over the last two plus years, playing hurt, numerous recovery attempts to get it better, then the hip resurfacing, so I mean, it’s been a long process. I think it’s been hard on him mentally and emotionally,” MacLellan said on Monday. “A lot of respect for the person, first of all, and the player. I don’t know that we can describe how much he’s meant to the organization. He’s the guy that’s driven the culture here for a long time. The way he handles himself off the ice and on the ice. I think that’s a big part of our success and our culture that we’ve had over the years here.”

Capitals head coach Spencer Carbery said that his body has not responded the way he wanted it to through the first eight games of the season. The Swedish center will be placed on LTIR at some point according to MacLellan. Backstrom signed a five-year extension back in January 2020 and still has two-years left on the deal, which carries a cap hit of $9.2 million annually.

 The 2006 fourth-overall pick has been with the Capitals for his entire 17-year NHL career. He ranks first in franchise history with 762 assists and is second all-time with 1033 points. He played in just eight games this season and racked up one assist.

 “I think it’s emotional for everybody. He’s been such a big part of the organization; I think you see the way that players react. Every coach and coaching staff that’s gone through here has the utmost respect for him,” MacLellan said. “It’s a tough situation and eventually everybody’s got to move on.”

 Now that Backstrom is presumably out for the season, other players will have to step up. Connor McMichael was slotted in his natural position at center for the last two games and played well.

 Meanwhile, Hendrix Lapierre has been centering the fourth line with Nic Dowd still ailing. MacLellan said that the goal is to get him participating in a practice towards the end of this week. Dowd was skating in a non-contact jersey prior to Friday’s practice along with Joel Edmundson. Furthermore, Max Pacioretty continues to progress but there is no timetable for his return.

MacLellan also mentioned that he is still looking to add a top six forward via trade, which has been a goal of his since the offseason. Though MacLellan says that he likes the roster as it is, if an opportunity presents itself to acquire a top six forward in the right age group, he will pursue.

There have been rumblings that the Capitals are still looking to move Anthony Mantha, the most recent report coming from David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period

The Capitals are currently 5-4-1 and sit at fifth place in the Metropolitan Division with 11 points. They will take on the Florida Panthers on Wednesday, Nov. 8 at Capital One Arena. 

By Jacob Cheris

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
This entry was posted in News and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Nicklas Backstrom “Unlikely” To Play Again This Season

  1. andrew777dc says:

    Ouch. Been checking all possible resources multiple times a day, every day, for this. Thanks.

  2. Anonymous says:

    LTIR and let’s spend that money and upgrade this team!

  3. DWGie26 says:

    I don’t think there are any immediate adds coming. We have youth that gets elevated like CMM and Protas. That is fine for now with others waiting. Patches will be a middle 6. GMBM also said he is still looking for a top 6 in right age range. That is moving a body (and salary) out in Mantha. Oshie will slide to 3RW.

    • Anonymous says:

      Totally agree and this early in the season everyone is in the same boat feeling their way around and seeing who is and who isnt going to be there all season. The other think in trying to obtain a top 6 forward, other teams know that and the price will be young players and picks as no team is going to take Oshie, Carlson, Kuzy or Mantha. Management and ownership dug this hole by not buying out Mantha and Backstrom out in June. Now they are scrambling to find something that will cost them dearly to obtain. Best that this GM could do is sit tight, let contracts expire, buy Backy out next June and then hope for a top 3pick in the draft. The owner and GM have been riding a great wave for years and now bad contracts and bad trades are coming back to haunt them.

      • Anonymous says:

        Oshie, Carlson, and Kuzy would draw interest from many teams but the asking price
        Would be too high. Nobody wants Mantha, understandably. The team was never going to buy out Backstrom. Not everything is about dollars and cents despite the fact that it is a business.

      • Anonymous says:

        They will never buyout Backstrom for numerous reasons. 1. He has meant so much to this organization. 2. Players pay attention to how organizations treat them. 3. Why buy him out when you can just put him on LTIR every year. If you buy him out that will result in dead cap space. Putting him on LTIR results in free cap space.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I suspect he’s played his last game. The silver lining here is it allows the team to use that money elsewhere. They’ll probably need to retain most of useless Mantha’s salary to move him.

Leave a Reply