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Capitals’ Backstrom facing ‘lengthy’ rehab after hip surgery

Washington Capitals Nicklas Backstrom

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 28: Nicklas Backstrom #19 of the Washington Capitals skates with the puck against the Carolina Hurricanes during the first period of the game at Capital One Arena on March 28, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

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The Washington Capitals announced that center Nicklas Backstrom underwent hip resurfacing surgery on Friday and is immediately beginning a “lengthy recovery process.”

Backstrom underwent the surgery in Belgium. The team has no timetable for his return.

None of this paints a very promising picture for Backstrom playing for the Capitals anytime soon. Back in May he said he was facing some major decisions regarding his ailing hip and that nothing final had been determined. At the time it was speculated that if Backstrom underwent another surgery on his hip he could be facing a “grueling” comeback that could either result in retirement or him missing an entire season.

This surgery is similar to the one Ryan Kesler had a few years ago. Kesler, who was also around the same age as Backstrom currently is at the time of his surgery, never played in the NHL again.

Backstrom still has three years remaining on his current contract with a salary cap hit of $9.25 million per season.

During his 15-year career Backstrom has been one of the best two-way centers of his era and one of the top players in Capitals history, to this point tallying 264 goals, 747 assists, and 1,011 points in 1,058 regular season games. He also helped the Capitals win their first ever Stanley Cup during the 2017-18 season when they defeated the expansion Vegas Golden Knights in five gamess.

The 2021-22 season was an especially difficult one for Backstrom as he missed half of the season due to injury and struggled to produce to his normal career levels when he did play. In 47 games he scored six goals, 25 assists, and 31 total points. As recently as a year ago he was still a point-per-game player in the NHL.