Nicklas Backstrom is stepping away from hockey and the Washington Capitals.
The player and organization released a joint statement on X announcing that Backstrom is stepping away, though no timeline for return or final decisions on his career has been made.
Backstrom, 35, has struggled this season after having hip resurfacing surgery in June 2022. The Capitals’ stalwart center does not yet have a goal in eight games this season. He has just one assist and has been recently relegated to the third line.
“Given my ongoing injury situation, I have decided to take some time and step away from the game. This is a difficult decision, but one that I feel is right for my health at this time,” Backstrom’s statement read. “I want to thank my teammates, the organization, and the fans for their unwavering support throughout this process. I ask for privacy at this time as I determine my next steps and viable options moving forward.”
The move will presumably allow the Capitals to put Backstrom and nearly all of his $9.2 million salary on LTIR.
Capitals prospect Hendrix Lapierre, who was promoted to the NHL due to recent injuries, is likely to remain on the roster due to the center vacancy. With Nic Dowd still sidelined, Connor McMichael has also filled in at center after starting the season at left wing, according to Monumental Sports Net’s Tarik El-Bashir.
You can see Backstrom’s first goal after surgery here.