Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom took another important step back towards returning as NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti reports (Twitter link) that the veteran was in a regular sweater at their morning skate today which means that he has been cleared for contact. Backstrom has yet to play this season after undergoing hip surgery back in June, one that had his availability to play in 2022-23 in question. However, the fact he’s participating in full in team skates suggests that the 35-year-old should be able to return in the somewhat near future. With the holiday break coming next week, it’s likely that Washington will wait to activate him until after that time but it appears that the Caps will have a key player back in the second half of the season.
The Capitals will need to create salary cap space to activate Backstrom once he’s ready but it’s worth noting that Tom Wilson, who has yet to play this year after undergoing knee surgery, is not currently on LTIR. Once Backstrom is ready to return, Washington will move Wilson to LTIR, freeing up a good chunk of the room needed to bring the center back while other roster tweaks will get them into cap compliance.
More from the Metropolitan:
- While Hurricanes goaltender Frederik Andersen participated in practice yesterday, head coach Rod Brind’Amour told reporters including Cory Lavalette of the North State Journal that the netminder won’t dress for either game this weekend. The veteran has been out for the last six weeks but with Pyotr Kochetkov thriving right now as their interim starter, the team can afford to be patient with Andersen. However, it’s a contract year for the 33-year-old though so he’s going to want to get back in the lineup sooner than later. He has a 2.72 GAA with a .891 SV% in eight starts so far this season.
- Still with the Hurricanes, prospect Justin Robidas is expected to be traded in the QMJHL from Val-d’Or to Quebec when the trade window opens up tomorrow, notes Carl Tardif of Le Soleil. The 19-year-old was a fifth-round pick back in 2021 (147th overall) in 2021 and is tied for 13th in league scoring with 14 goals and 26 assists in 26 games so far. Carolina has until June 1st of next year to sign him so these next few months with the Remparts will be crucial for Robidas.