Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom will not play in the 2023 IIHF World Championship despite getting an invite from Team Sweden.
Aftonbladet’s Per Bjurman reports that Backstrom has instead decided to have a full summer break to rest and continue to rehab his surgically repaired hip.
Backstrom last played for Sweden internationally at the 2017 World Championship where he recorded seven points (3g, 4a) in five games on the way to winning a gold medal.
“It would have been so damn fun, but unfortunately I have to strengthen my leg more and have a good summer,” Backstrom told Bjurman and translated via Google Translate.
The report comes after Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan outlined how important an offseason it will be for Backstrom in his Breakdown Day press conference. Backstrom is less than a year removed from a major hip resurfacing procedure that he had done on his left hip.
The veteran Swede played just 39 games this past season after working his way back into the Capitals’ lineup.
“That’s a major surgery,” MacLellan said. “I think it’s frustrating in that I don’t know how much better it’s going to get. I haven’t seen any other players do it, recover, and get back to the level they thought they were at before. I don’t know where that ends up with the offseason training. He’s going to have to make a decision on his career where he thinks he’s at.
“I think it’s a tough thing to get through,” he continued. “We don’t have experience on observing players that have done it. I don’t know what could happen in the offseason to make it significantly better.”
On the flip side though, Backstrom was a ton more positive about his future prospects in his own media availability despite having his worst year as a pro, posting just 21 points (7g, 14a) in those 39 games.
The 35-year-old playmaker says he has full plans on coming back for more hockey next season.
“I mean, better and better,” Backstrom said of how he is feeling. “It’s not ideal to come in mid-season and a big surgery like that. You missed a lot and you’re trying to catch up. It’s not ideal. I mean I’m optimistic about next year and like, have a good summer, the first really good summer in a couple of years, and be ready at the training camp and be a part of that. That’s what I’m looking forward to.”
Bjurman adds that while Backstrom won’t be participating for Sweden, defenseman Rasmus Sandin is still available and could be chosen to go to the tournament co-hosted by Tampere, Finland and Riga, Latvia.
Sweden was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the 2022 tournament in Tampere and Helsinki, Finland.
Headline photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB
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