The Washington Capitals were back in front of the cameras and reporters today, answering questions about the upcoming season. Many of those questions were directed at Nicklas Backstrom, who is coming off hip surgery and has an unclear timeline. While it’s not yet certain when he’ll resume skating, Backstrom told reporters including Tarik El-Bashir of The Athletic that he is “pain-free” for the first time in a long time. The veteran center first underwent hip surgery way back in 2015.
El-Bashir also spoke with T.J. Oshie, who had a core procedure this offseason and isn’t expected to miss any time, and Tom Wilson, who is ahead of schedule in his ACL rehab. With such a veteran core, injuries are always going to be something the Capitals have to monitor closely or risk their season being derailed quickly. Getting Wilson back ahead of time would be a big boost, and any games from Backstrom this year seem like a bonus.
- When the Chicago Blackhawks released their roster today, they also announced a few injuries for the start of camp. Among them was Ian Mitchell, who will miss the next six weeks with a wrist injury. It’s brutal timing for the young defenseman, as there was a real opportunity for him to jump into the lineup while Jake McCabe is out for the first several weeks of the season. Selected 57th overall in 2017, Mitchell played 39 games with the team in 2020-21 but only eight last year, instead spending most of his time with the Rockford IceHogs. It is not clear where the 23-year-old (24 in January) sits in the organizational depth chart but an injury to start the year won’t help.
- Speaking of tough starts, the Montreal Canadiens will be without new captain Nick Suzuki for the next two weeks after he suffered a lower-body injury. Josh Anderson and Jake Evans are also out day-to-day, while Joel Edmundson is still dealing with a lower-body injury and is out indefinitely. Sean Monahan, working his way back from surgery has not yet been cleared to participate, though he is skating. Eric Engels of Sportsnet is attempting to find out whether Edmundson’s lower-body issue is related to the back injury he dealt with last season, though there is no clarity to this point. The veteran defenseman played only 24 games last season.