ARLINGTON, Va. — Nicklas Backstrom is optimistic that he’ll play for the Washington Capitals at some point this season after recovering from resurfacing surgery on his left hip, but there is no timetable for his return.
“I’m going to start off by saying I’m pain free,” the center said Thursday, the first day of training camp. “No more pain that I had before. I’m feeling good. I’m in the gym working out, doing my rehab. So far, so good. I’m very optimistic that I’m going to play before the season ends .”
The 34-year-old missed the first 28 games last season rehabbing his hip and returned to score 31 points (six goals, 25 assists) in 47 games. After dealing with the pain in his hip the past two seasons, Backstrom had surgery June 17.
“It was a life-changer for me in daily life,” he said. “Just to pick up socks, tie my shoes, stuff like that — and play with my kids. I couldn’t really do that, either. It helped me a lot functionally, and I’m happy about that. That part, I’m feeling great. Now it’s just the next step to get me back to the ice.”
Backstrom hasn’t begun skating and is focusing on cardio and strengthening work.
“I know physically he feels real well now just doing daily stuff,” general manager Brian MacLellan said. “I think it’ll be a long progression and see how the skating affects it, the strength how it comes back, the mobility how it comes back and how he’ll be able to use it in game situations. So, I think it ‘ll be a long road, but we’ll see how it goes.”
Forward Tom Wilson, who had surgery May 24 to reconstruct a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and will miss the start of season, said his recovery is progressing well. Neither Wilson nor MacLellan gave an update on his timetable to return; the Capitals said in May that Wilson would need 6-8 months to recover.
“I feel good,” Wilson said. “I feel like I’ve kind of been ahead of schedule per se since Day One, but that doesn’t mean much unfortunately. Obviously, I want to be as good as I can every day, but you’ve still got to wait .”
Wilson said there is no timetable for when he’ll begin skating. He was injured trying to hit Florida Panthers defenseman MacKenzie Weegar in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round on May 3 and missed the remainder of the best-of-7 series, which Florida won in six games.
“There was definitely — we weren’t putting up a smokescreen — in our head we were going to do everything I could to get back [in the series],” Wilson said, “and there was a couple of big tests on the ice where it just didn’t happen, so we had to shut it down.”
The 28-year-old set NHL career highs of 24 goals, 28 assists and 52 points last season, his ninth in the League, in 78 games.
Forward TJ Oshie revealed Thursday he had a core procedure done early in the offseason. He did not take part in the skate testing Thursday but said he expects to be on the ice Friday. The 35-year-old had 25 points (11 goals, 14 assists) in 44 games last season.
Forward Carl Hagelinworking to return from a left eye injury sustained when he was struck with a stick blade during practice March 1, did not participate in the skate testing.
“He has a lower-body injury that needs to be addressed, and we’re working through the final parts of it right now,” MacLellan said. “He’ll be out indefinitely.”
Hagelin previously said the choroid in the back of his eye was ruptured and that he won’t regain full vision in the eye.
“I think it’s still improving, so it’s inconclusive at this point where he’s at,” MacLellan said of Hagelin’s vision. “He’ll have some time here, because of the other thing going on, to heal and see where it goes.”
The 34-year-old had 14 points (three goals, 11 assists) in 53 games last season.