Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson will make their season debuts for the Washington Capitals on Sunday against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Capitals announced.
Backstrom, 35, hasn’t played since the Capitals’ Game 6 loss to the Florida Panthers in the first round of the playoffs in 2022. question about whether he can return to the NHL.
Longtime Florida Panthers and Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Ed Jovanovski is the only player to be able to play in an NHL game again after undergoing reconstructive surgery. Backstrom is set to make that two of him.
Wilson, 28, will also make his season debut on Sunday after spending months rehabbing a torn ACL sustained in last year’s playoff series against the Panthers.
Backstrom and Wilson both won the Stanley Cup with the Capitals in 2018 and have established themselves as key core pieces along with Alex Ovechkin over the years. They’re certainly fourth in the Metropolitan Division right now, but they’re going to be fast and furious and give the Capitals another big boost.
To accommodate the return of Backstrom and Wilson, the Capitals placed injured defenseman John Carlson on the long-term injured list and assigned forward Aliaksey Protas to the American Hockey League.
Wilson set a new career-high in the 2021–22 season with 24 goals and 52 points in 78 games. He added another goal in Game 1 against the Panthers before sustaining a serious injury.
As for Backstrom, he scored 6 goals and 31 points in 47 games for the Capitals during the regular season, and scored an additional 6 points (2 goals, 4 assists) in 6 playoff games.
Backstrom’s current contract has two years left after this, with a cap hit of $9.2 million. Wilson is contracted at his annual average through 2024. $5,167,000.
The Capitals will host the Blue Jackets on Sunday at 5pm ET at the Capital One Arena in DC.