Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson return to ice and skate for first time since surgeries

The Washington Capitals got some good news on Wednesday. star forwards Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson returned to the ice at MedStar Capitals Iceplex.

Per The Athletic’s Tarik El-Bashirthe skates were light — both players were in tracksuits — but importantly it marked their first step towards returning to the team.

NBC Sports Washington’s Matt Weyrich posted a clip of their skates.

Weyrich addedBackstrom and Wilson “aren’t yet ready to fully resume skating and it will be another few days before they do so again.”

Wilson is recovering from major offseason knee surgery to repair the torn ACL in his left leg. During Training Camp, Wilson said he was ahead of schedule in rehabilitating his knee, but admitted that didn’t mean much for his timeline on returning.

“Everything has been good, it’s been pretty smooth,” Wilson said of his rehab. “[The injury] is one of those things where you can be ahead of schedule, but you still need to wait… I feel like I’ve kind of been ahead of schedule, per se, since day one. That doesn’t mean much, unfortunately. Obviously, I want to be as good as I can every day (putting in the work) but you still have to wait.”

Wilson was waiting to return to the ice until both of his legs had equal strength. The first-line forward is looking at a return around December.

“I think I probably could skate, but until your legs are the same and until your muscles are all the same, (I won’t),” Wilson said. “I’m going to do enough skating, enough bag skating, enough on-ice stuff before I get back. What’s most beneficial to me this morning (I’m doing) and right now the ice isn’t. When I’m out on the ice that will be the day it’s most beneficial for me to be on the ice.”

Meanwhile, Backstrom is recuperating from major hip surgery. While he hopes to come back this season, his future remains uncertain due to the complicated nature of his surgery and the mixed results other athletes have had with it in professional sports.

“I had a common hip surgery eight years ago and then it felt good for a few years,” Backstrom said in August. “But since then it’s only gotten worse. I’ve had problems for years. It’s hard to describe, it kind of stings. I’ve had trouble walking. It was hard to put on socks and tie my shoes. It’s been kind of messy and frustrating – to say it nicely. It’s not been fun fighting through the pain. I’ve limped to the rink and it’s actually been easier to skate than walk. My family took the hit. I couldn’t even play with my kids. It’s been very tough.

“My cap ball had unevenness which caused pain,” Backstrom continued. “Now the cap ball is cut in half and I have like a metal coat around it. It protects it in the slot. I feel really good right now. We’ll see how it is when games get more intense this winter. It’s really amazing, the things [the doctors] are able to do.”

At Training Camp, Backstrom was optimistic and revealed that he is pain-free for the first time in years.

Behind the scenes, Backstrom has been working very hard with his personal trainer Andreas Öhgren off-ice. Öhgren traveled from his native Sweden and stayed in DC the last month to aid the veteran center. A source tells RMNB that Backstrom is personally targeting an early return in the 2023 calendar year, but it’s unknown if that will be possible.

When Backstrom and Wilson do come back, the team will have to make some moves to get under the salary cap. Combined, the players account for $14.3 million in cap hits.

Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB

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