The Washington Capitals have recalled Michael Sgarbossa and placed top center Nicklas Backstrom on long-term injured reserve. Backstrom took a leave of absence from the Capitals on November 1st and it was quickly revealed that his availability for the remainder of the year was uncertain. The 35-year-old centerman was attempting to return from a hip injury that required resurfacing surgery in June 2022. The surgery limited Backstrom to only 39 games last season and it seems complications are carrying into this year.
Centerman Sgarbossa joins the team in Backstrom’s wake, after appearing in 11 games with the AHL’s Hershey Bears this season. The 31-year-old netted 12 points in those games, maintaining the high scoring that he’s become accustomed to in the minor leagues, netting 58 points in 60 games. Sgarbossa has been a plug-and-play option for NHL teams for the last decade, making his debut with the Colorado Avalanche in the 2012-13 season. He’s played with four NHL clubs since then, never recording more than 30 games in a single season. Sgarbossa’s most prolific NHL tenure came in 2016-17 when he tallied seven points in 29 games with the Florida Panthers. He also received 10 games with the Capitals during the 2021-22 season, scoring four points. He’s a veteran professional, with 541 career AHL games under his belt and a strong 405 points in those matchups.
Sgarbossa will bring competition to the team’s center depth, including Hendrix Lapierre, who has gone without a point through his first three games of the season. The Capitals only have two players with more than six points through their first 10 games and rank second-to-last in terms of goals scored through the early season. With Sgarbossa adding depth, they will look to turn their season around, despite Backstrom’s absence.