Nicklas Backstrom took a step toward returning to the Washington Capitals’ lineup Monday, participating in line rushes during the team’s practice.
Backstrom has yet to be cleared for contact after undergoing arthroscopic hip surgery during the offseason. He is slated to meet with his surgeon this week to discuss his progress.
“It’s pretty much up to the doctor,” Backstrom told the team’s website. “We’ll see what’s going on. We’re going to have a discussion here and see what decision we make, and we’ll go from there.”
Once he is given the green light for contact, coach Barry Trotz told The Washington Post he believes Backstrom would need only one or two practices before being ready to jump into the lineup.
The 27-year-old Backstrom sat out Washington’s season-opening victory over the New Jersey Devils, the first game he has missed since the 2011-12 campaign. He has appeared in every one of the Capitals’ contests in six of his eight seasons with the club since being selected with the fourth overall pick in the 2006 draft.
A native of Gavle, Sweden, Backstrom posted career highs of 33 goals and 101 points in 2009-10 but has not come close to those totals since. He has maxed out at 18 tallies, reaching that number three times in his last four full seasons, while recording 79 points in 2013-14.
Backstrom also registered a career-high 68 assists and posted a personal-best plus-37 rating in 2009-10. He has recorded 61 and 60 assists, respectively, in the last two campaigns and was plus-5 in 2014-15 after finishing a career-worst minus-20 the previous season.
Last season, Backstrom notched 18 goals and 60 assists before adding three tallies and eight points in 14 playoff contests. The 6-foot-1, 213-pounder has collected 145 goals and 427 assists in 577 career games.