According to NHL.com regional writer Tom Gulitti, Washington Capitals regular forwards Nicklas Backstrom, Tom Wilson, and Carl Hagelin, alongside defenseman Alexander Alexeyev, will start the season on either long-term injured reserve or the injured non-roster list.
The news comes as little surprise for all four of the players. Most notably, Backstrom, who remains one of the most successful and important players in franchise history, had hip resurfacing surgery in June that could very well cost him the entire season. Importantly, though, reporting since the surgery indicates that Backstrom is pain-free for the first time in a long time and is recovering well from the procedure, which has significantly improved his quality of life. Backstrom still has an unclear timeline and has yet to resume skating, but he feels optimistic and the slim possibility remains that Backstrom suits up in 2022-23, whether it be for the end of the regular season or just the playoffs.
Alexeyev is recovering from a shoulder procedure that was announced at the same time as Backstrom’s surgery. The expected recovery time was four to five months, putting him on track to return sometime around November 1. Placement on either LTIR or injured non-roster suggests he may be a bit behind schedule in his recovery, but there doesn’t appear to have been a significant setback. Alexeyev could very well find a way to stay on the NHL roster once healthy if Matt Irwin struggles in his depth/seventh defenseman role.
Wilson underwent a procedure to repair a torn ACL in late May, carrying a six-to-eight-month recovery time that would have seen him return to the lineup in late November at the earliest. Over the offseason, however, reports have indicated that Wilson is ahead of schedule in his recovery, meaning it could just be roughly the first month of the season he misses. After scoring a career-high 24 goals and 52 points last year, he’s expected to slot back into the top-line right-wing spot once healthy.
Hagelin’s career-threatening eye injury last season appears to not be as bad as originally feared, as he skated with a non-contact designation prior to camp. Yet Hagelin’s bad injury luck hasn’t subsided, and he’s been dealing with unrelated issues that have kept him out of participating in much of camp. There’s no timeline for his return.