Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom has put together an incredible career, especially considering that he has been dealing with chronic hip pain for parts of at least half of it. Up until this season, Backstrom has missed very little time due to injury throughout his career despite the nagging injury, however as the injury became more and more unbearable, the veteran knew he needed to address it for real, not simply ride it out. That ultimately lead to hip resurfacing surgery back in June, a procedure that should alleviate much of Backstrom’s day-to-day pain, but could affect his long-term career plans, much as the procedure did to Ryan Kesler and Ed Jovanovski.
Recently, Backstrom sat down for an interview with Swedish website expressen.se to discuss life before and after the surgery (link to original Swedish article). Washington Hockey Now’s Sammi Silber broke down Backstrom’s interview, originally in Swedish, profiling the Capitals star’s road to recovery (link to Silber’s article in English). Of note, Backstrom said prior to the surgery he had trouble doing things as simple as tying his shoes or putting on his socks. He added that skating had become easier than walking at times with the injury. On the brightside, however, Backstrom says that since the surgery, his quality of life has improved greatly and he’s been able to enjoy the offseason. Though the injury can end the careers of professional athletes, and there’s no timetable on when or if Backstrom can return, the All Star says that he’s not ready to think about hanging up his skates and for the first time in a long time, feels optimistic about where things are. Despite the injury and his age (34), Backstrom remains an incredibly important part of the Capitals’ build and has three more seasons at a $9.2MM AAV left on his contract.
- CHEK’s Rick Dhaliwal appeared on the Sekeres and Price podcast to discuss the impact that Nazem Kadri’s free agent deal will have on 2023 UFA and current Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller. In sum, Dhaliwal told the pair, “Kadri’s agent did J.T. Miller’s agent a favor,” referencing the seven year, $49MM contract Kadri signed with the Calgary Flames. Looking a little deeper at what Dhaliwal means, Kadri is about to turn 32 years of age, coming off a career-best 87 points in 71 games, crushing his previous career-best of 61 points in 82 games back in 2016-17. If Kadri, who is a year-and-a-half older than Miller will be next summer, can secure a seven-year deal after one 87-point season, “there is no way Miller will accept anything under seven or eight years.” While there’s never been anything stopping Miller from setting that as his asking price, Kadri’s contract simply helps Miller make his own case for at least the same, if not a better contract. Miller is coming off his own career-best of 99 points in 80 games, but also boasts an impressive 46 points in 53 games and 72 points in 69 games the two seasons prior. Still, it will be up to Miller to have another stellar performance like he did this year if he wants to easily secure a contract greater than Kadri’s.
- An interesting bit of news, if it can be called that, was free agent forward and former Capital Brett Connolly joined several members of the Capitals at an informal skate at the team’s facility in Arlington, Virginia on Friday. Connolly skated alongside John Carlson, Lars Eller, Carl Hagelin, Garnet Hathaway, Hendrix Lapierre, Joe Snively, Sam Anas and Alexander Alexeyev, and though he was a teammate of a few of them from 2016-19, he wasn’t skating with them as a teammate Friday. The veteran forward instead told El-Bashir he was in town for personal reasons and simply needed a place to skate. An NHLer, and one who helped bring a Stanley Cup to D.C., Connolly was simply able to skate in a familiar place with some familiar faces. The veteran is currently a UFA awaiting his next deal, which could likely be on a PTO and invite to training camp with an NHL team looking for a proven offensive weapon.