Backstrom's future with Capitals uncertain after hip resurfacing surgery

Backstrom’s future with Capitals uncertain after hip resurfacing surgery

Nicklas Backstrom faces an uncertain future after the Washington Capitals center had resurfacing surgery on his left hip Friday.

The Capitals did not provide a recovery time Saturday in announcing the procedure, which is less invasive than a full hip replacement surgery, but said Backstrom is to immediately begin his rehabilitation and lengthy recovery process. The surgery was performed at the ANCA Clinic in Belgium.

Defenseman Ed Jovanovski was able to come back and play for the Florida Panthers in 2013-14 after having hip resurfacing surgery. Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler had resurfacing surgery on his right hip after the 2018-19 season and on his left one in February 2020, and was not able to return.

Backstrom also had surgery on his left hip in 2015 and hoped to avoid a second procedure after it began to bother him again late last season. The 34-year-old missed the first 28 games of this season rehabbing his hip and returned to score 31 points (six goals, 25 assists) in 47 games for Washington.

Backstrom had six points (two goals, four assists) in six Stanley Cup Playoff games but said after the Capitals were eliminated by the Panthers in the Eastern Conference First Round that he might need surgery again.

“The hip is not going to be 100 percent,” Backstrom said May 15. “That’s something we all know. Some days are good. Some days are less good. That’s just life. … The best thing I want to do is play hockey , and that’s my life. Obviously, I want to be back. I want to be back to normal, not worrying about this. We’ll see what’s going to happen. Nothing is finalized yet.”

Backstrom, who is second in Capitals history behind forward Alex Ovechkin with 1,011 points (264 goals, 747 assists) in 1,058 games over 15 NHL seasons, all with Washington, has three seasons left on a five-year, $46 million contract ($9.2 million average annual value) he signed in 2020. But to play this season required a daily process with trainers that general manager Brian MacLellan said probably wasn’t sustainable.

“Not the way it is,” MacLellan said after the season. “It’s hard for him to play. … I think he’s going to explore all options here. He wants it to be better. He wants to be more physically comfortable when he plays, so he’s going to explore it.”

Washington will begin next season without forward Tom Wilson, who had surgery May 24 to reconstruct a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. The Capitals estimated Wilson’s recovery will take 6-8 months.

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