Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan held one of his rare media availabilities on Saturday before the Caps were set to take on one of his former teams from his playing days in the Calgary Flames.
In the presser, GMBM discussed a variety of topics including the team’s prospects, free agents next summer, the status of injured players, and most intriguingly the idea of maybe trading for some help on offense.
“It is tough for an LTI team,” MacLellan told The Athletic’s Tarik El-Bashir. “You know, these two are making progress. We have to make room to have them in the lineup. To help our team you would have to add a high-end guy, top-six guy but they are $5 million, $6 million. You can’t add that player while you are bringing two guys back from LTI. That’s why we say our top guys have to carry us to that point.”
The two guys that MacLellan is referring to are Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson. Both key forwards have yet to suit up this season as they continue to recover from respective, major offseason surgeries. They hold a combined cap hit of close to $14.5 million that the team plans on needing to reintegrate this season.
Backstrom is the latest of the two to show that he could be nearing a return. On November 19, the legendary Swedish centerman practiced with his teammates in a non-contact jersey for the first time this season. He had a hip resurfacing procedure done in June.
“Yeah, he’s progressing well,” MacLellan said of his pivot. “There’s been no setbacks, so it’s positive. I don’t know where it ends up but everything has been positive so far.
“I’m saying he is doing really well and his rehab is going well,” he continued. “I don’t know that it has been tested, we would like to see him in a practice and (take) contact. That will come in the next little bit, I hope.”
Wilson has been a little less involved than Backstrom. The last time we really saw him publicly skate was in late October.
“Tom’s good, too,” MacLellan said. “I don’t have an exact date. We’ll get a better picture in the next few weeks. Mid-December, we’ll have a pretty good idea. We can be more certain on it then.”
Without the two top-six forwards up front, the Caps have fallen to 27th in the NHL when it comes to goals scored per game (2.73). Since Alex Ovechkin’s debut season in 2005-06 through 2021-22, the team ranked third among all teams in that category (3.07). Perhaps the biggest indicator of the drought in secondary scoring is that Conor Sheary is the team’s second-leading goal scorer with nine goals from 26 games.
The team is also 10-1-1 this season when they score three or more goals. On the flip side, they are 0-11-3 when they score two or fewer.
If it’s not going to be a trade that helps soothe those issues, the Caps have to hope Backstrom and Wilson are back sooner rather than later.
Screenshot via @Capitals
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.