ARLINGTON, Va. -- Nicklas Backstrom's hip is improving, but there is still no timetable for when he may return to the ice, let alone be ready to play.
Backstrom spoke with the media Saturday, his first public comments since training camp started.
“It’s getting better and better," Backstrom said of the hip. "I think we are not rushing here. We are looking at it long-term not short-term. Making sure it is ready before I start skating.”
Backstrom was the Capitals' best player in 2021 with 15 goals and 38 assists in 55 games. The hip issue began to bother him late in the season, however, and limited him in the playoffs where he tallied only one assist in five games.
Backstrom underwent arthroscopic hip surgery in 2015 on his left hip. He confirmed on Saturday that the current injury is to the same hip.
"It has just been beaten up," Backstrom said. "It is a good time now to really be patient with it and make sure it feels good before I step on the ice.”
Surgery is not on the table for the current issue and Backstrom has been rehabbing the injury at an offsite location.
“It’s been good, I think we focused a lot on strengthening again and making sure we yeah, it’s all part of the process," Backstrom said. "Strengthening, mobility and making sure it starts to feel good again and that is where we are at and I mean even if, it is not a high load of workouts it is getting better every day which is a good thing.”
With the start of the regular season on Oct. 13, his status to play in the opener is very much in doubt.
Officially, Backstrom's status of week-to-week has not changed as far as the team is concerned.
"When I talk to the trainers, he’s not available," head coach Peter Laviolette said. "It was listed at 1-2 weeks. Nothing’s changed since then."
But Backstrom has not skated with the team at all in training camp and said he has only been on the ice "a little bit." That means he has gone though all of the offseason and all of training camp up to this point with very little ice time. It would seem highly doubtful then that he would be able to get back on the ice and get into game shape in time for the start of the season which, as of writing, is just 11 days away.
"I have no timetable here," Backstrom said. "We're just going to listen to the body and go slow. We'll see what happens. Hopefully I'll be back skating soon."