The Capitals hit the road for a two-game road trip with tons of question marks in their lineup. Washington will play the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday and the Winnipeg Jets on Friday. Here is the latest update on who will and will not be available for the Caps based on what we learned from Tuesday's practice.
Backstrom will travel with the team to Chicago and participate in the morning skate on Wednesday before any decisions are made on if he will play. The decision will be made based on how he is feeling after the skate.
"I think there's a lot of conversations that are involved in it," head coach Peter Laviolette said. "Obviously the practice and where he's at, Nick and where he's at, the doctors and where he's at, so there's a lot of conversations that have happened. The one thing that we made sure of was that there has been no push. When he's back and you see him on the ice, it's because he is ready and not until then."
Backstrom skated on the second line in Tuesday's practice so the team is preparing as if he will play, but the official decision will be made on Wednesday.
If Backstrom does play, he will be activated off of long-term injured reserve which will mean having to fit his cap hit under the cap ceiling. With Anthony Mantha out and not close to returning, he will almost certainly be moved to LTIR to compensate for Backstrom's return.
Even if Backstrom does play Wednesday, it is not automatic that he will play Friday as well. Laviolette said he intends to take a wait-and-see approach when it comes to Backstrom's usage so activating him does not necessarily mean Backstrom should be considered full-go.
"I think that will be kind of a work in progress through communication to see how he's doing and where he's at and how many games we're talking about," Laviolette said. "Are we talking about back-to-backs? Are we talking about four games in six nights? I think it all depends on what we're talking about."
Wilson was at MedStar Capitals Iceplex on Tuesday for evaluation. He did not practice or skate and it is unknown if he will travel with the team.
Wilson suffered an upper-body injury in Friday's game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He has been listed as day-to-day, but has not practiced with the team since suffering the injury.
Nic Dowd, Trevor van Riemsdyk
Dowd and van Riemsdyk technically remain on the league's COVID protocol, but they both returned to practice on Monday and have taken part in line rushes the past two days, Dowd on the fourth line and van Riemsdyk on the third defensive pair. They will travel with the team to Chicago and are expected to play Wednesday.
Neither player, however, will be available for Fridays' game in Winnipeg due to Canada's COVID protocols.
With both players still on protocol, they do not count towards the team's roster. If both of them and Backstrom are all activated for Wednesday's game, the team will have to move two players to reach the 23-player maximum. These will likely be paper transactions with both Dowd and van Riemsdyk going back in the protocol for Friday's game.
Dowd spoke Tuesday after practice and said he dealt with mild symptoms. He described feeling as if he had a bad head cold, but is feeling better now.
Hathaway remains on COVID protocol and will not travel with the team.
Here's a look at the lines from Tuesday's practice:
Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Aliaksei Protas
Conor Sheary - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Connor McMichael - Lars Eller - Daniel Sprong
Martin Fehervary - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Nick Jensen
Trevor van Riemsdyk - Justin Schultz