By Ian Oland
Nicklas Backstrom could be facing an uncertain future if he opts to get another surgery on his hip, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, one of the NHL’s top insiders, said on his podcast 32 Thoughts, Monday.
Friedman, who co-hosts the pod with Jeff Marek, played a snippet of Backstrom’s remarks from Breakdown Day.
“We’ll see what happens,” Backstrom said of rehabbing his hip over the summer. “We have some decisions to make. Those decisions aren’t final yet so we’ll take it day by day.”
Those comments “surprised a lot of people,” said Friedman.
Friedman went on to say that if Backstrom opts to get another surgery on his ailing hip, he would be facing a “grueling grueling” comeback. Friedman threw out possible outcomes being retirement or Backstrom missing an entire season.
What I think that might be is that if he’s facing a kind of surgery that, judging by his comments he could be facing, it’s a lot to come back from for a guy that’s had the miles that Backstrom’s had. There have been some rumors that’s what he’s been weighing and it makes sense with what he said. It’s not just the injury, but it’s the surgery you could have and the recovery from it. And it’s a big deal. It’s a big challenge. I don’t know if that means he’s going to retire or might he have to take a year off or something like that. I don’t have all of those answers. But the one thing I kind of heard was, if he gets the surgery, the kind of that’s indicated with his injuries, it’s a grueling, grueling thing and not insignificant.
“As I said before, the hip is not going to be 100 percent,” Backstrom said on Breakdown Day. “That’s something we all know. Some days are good, some days are less good. That’s just life.”
The Capitals seem to be hoping that a second surgery can be avoided.
“We’re going through options for him to remedy,” Caps general manager Brian MacLellan said of Backstrom. “He’s put in a lot of work and effort to come back this year. It still isn’t the way he wants it so we’re going to look at options to get it better.“
When asked if how last year went was sustainable, MacLellan said, “Not the way it is. It’s hard for him to play. He’s got a couple things in mind that he wants to try and we’ll go from there.”
Whatever the Capitals and Backstrom do, MacLellan didn’t think it’ll keep him out at the start of next season. Alex Ovechkin seconded that.
“He’s a warrior. He’s tough man,” Ovi said. “I’m pretty sure he’s going to be better next year. Everybody knows what he means to the team, for organization, for us. He’s a leader. I hope he’s gonna be better.”
During his chat on the podcast, Friedman also spoke about the Capitals’ plans during the offseason.
They are going to be in the goalie market this season. No question about that. They looked at it. Fleury and others during the regular season. I think they will look at some others now.
And then I think they will try to look at how they can inject some new blood into their roster. Kuznetsov having the season that he had was very very big for them. If they were looking at next season where Backstrom is hurt and Kuznetsov hadn’t had the comeback he had, I think they’d feel very very uncertain. But I think Kuznetsov has at least given them the feeling that they’ve got something there. MacLellan has not been afraid to make big deals. I think he will look at some interesting stuff again.
The biggest thing is Backstrom and his future. The second biggest thing is goaltending. And I think after that, I think it’s going to come down to what other changes they want to make with their roster. Do they want to put more youth on their team or get somebody that they think can still help them and win now.
Friedman also praised the Capitals for how they played in the first round against the Florida Panthers.
The one thing about Washington and their playoff series is they showed that when they needed to be, they can be a very disciplined team. They handed teams the blueprint to beat Florida. They were very disciplined through the neutral zone. They put the Florida power play in handcuffs. They played well enough to win that series. They simply ran out of gas. If anyone beats Florida, they’re going to look at how the Capitals played them to do it.
You can listen to the entire 32 Thoughts podcast here.
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
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