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Backstrom, Wilson ‘Ramping Up,’ Getting Closer To Next Step

Washington Capitals forwards Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson are making significant strides in their recoveries. Here’s the latest.



ARLINGTON, V.A. — Following his hip resurfacing surgery in June, there were questions as to whether or not Nicklas Backstrom would ever play again. And so far the Washington Capitals star is proving doubters wrong as he and Tom Wilson continue to make progress on the injury front and get ready for next steps toward a return.

Backstrom and Wilson, who has been recovering from ACL surgery after tearing the ligament in Game 1 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, have been skating in practices in non-contact jerseys. Both also started traveling with the Capitals to continue getting in work while the team is on the road, and they will continue to travel with the club going forward.

While Backstrom and Wilson are in non-contact jerseys, the progress they've been making is remarkable. Both are skating well and competing hard, battling for pucks and showcasing their ability. Head coach Peter Laviolette has seen a lot from the two of them, and he believes that they are on the right track when it comes to making the next leap forward.

"They're ramping up right now," Laviolette said. "Eventually, these jersey colors will change, and there'll be a process that goes to that next step, where they are now involved in contact. And then they're in the battles more, and the physicality of it. Certainly to see them out here competing as hard as they are, that's a really good thing."

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Backstrom was limited to just 47 games last year due to his lingering hip issues, and he had 31 points in that span. When he came back, he felt good for a couple of games, but admitted that his hip had started to grind down shortly after his return. Ultimately, the pain was intolerable, and it got to the point where Backstrom elected to undergo hip resurfacing surgery, a major procedure that has ended some pro careers.

"I think I tried everything else to make it better," he explained. "But at the same time, this kind of like, the last resort: unproven technology for sports. I just think that's the biggest thing, but I had to do it because I had no other choice. It's either that, or I'll skate on one leg again…

"It was a life-changer for me in daily life," Backstrom added. "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."

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For the first time in years, Backstrom is pain-free, and he is also optimistic that he will play again. So far at practices, he's shown that he can play without pain, and that he can still keep up with his teammates.

"[You notice] the smile on his face. He doesn't seem to be carrying pain, and seems to be moving free and he's working hard to get back in shape" Laviolette noted. "He looks good to me out there. His skating looks good, his hands always look good, his hockey sense is always great. But the skating looks good to me."

Meanwhile, Wilson is making major strides after just having recently joined the group again following months of off-ice rehab and sessions skating on his own. The 28-year-old is coming off an All-Star season that saw him put up a career-high 24 goals, 28 assists and 52 points through 78 games.

In the end, getting him and Backstrom back will be a major boost for not just the top-6, but the entire organization.

"There's no question that it's good for morale when you start to see players that have such an impact on he team and they're back and they're working and they're trying to put themselves in a positive where they can come back and help our team," Laviolette added.