Capitals Nicklas Backstrom placed on long-term IR; Alex Ovechkin may play opener

Latest on Ovechkin and Backstrom.

capitals injuries
May 11, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) and Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom (19) on ice during warmups prior to their game against the Boston Bruins at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Capitals placed forward Nicklas Backstrom on long-term injured reserve Tuesday.

The move means Backstrom will be required to miss at least 10 games.

Backstrom, 33, has not participated in training camp while continuing to rehabilitate his left hip. He had arthroscopic surgery on it back in 2015 and previously said his current situation is due to wear and tear.

Capitals place Backstrom on LTIR

“There’s a process that you go through,” Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said Tuesday. “You start to see guys on the ice, so he was week-to-week. We’re pushing towards the end of what we said, and I think we’re still evaluating him to see where he’s at.

“I spoke with him today and he is improving.”

Backstrom recorded 53 points (15 goals, 38 assists) in 55 games last season. He has 980 points (258 goals, 722 assists) in 1,011 career games since the Capitals selected him with the fourth overall pick in the 2006 NHL Draft.

He is entering the second year of a five-year, $46 million contract.

Also on Tuesday, Washington recalled forwards Connor McMichael and Beck Malenstyn from Hershey of the American Hockey League.

McMichael, 20, had 27 points (14 goals, 13 assists) in 33 games with the Bears last season. He also played in one game with the Capitals in 2020-21.

Malenstyn, 23, has yet to record a point in three career NHL games.

Ovechkin skates at practice

alex ovechkin injury
Oct 8, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) kneels on the ice after injuring his left knee against the Philadelphia Flyers during the first period at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Ovechkin was injured in preseason action but skated today at practice. It’s a good sign he could play in tomorrow’s season opener against the New York Rangers.

“That’s a good sign,” Laviolette said. “We’ll get an update and an evaluation once he gets off the ice. Certainly a positive sign that he’s out there. We’ll do what’s best for the player and make sure that they’re healthy and we won’t put them in any situations where they might be jeopardized out there.”

Ovechkin, who signed a five-year, $47.5 million contract extension in the offseason, is the franchise leader in games played (1,197), goals (730) and points (1,320) since being selected by Washington with the top overall pick in the 2004 NHL Draft. He was named the Conn Smythe Trophy recipient during the Capitals’ run to the Stanley Cup title in 2018.

Ovechkin collected 42 points (team-leading 24 goals, 18 assists) in 45 games in 2020-21 while competing in the final season of a 13-year, $124 million contract he signed in 2008. He sits one goal shy of tying Hall of Famer Marcel Dionne for fifth place all-time in NHL history.

–Field Level Media