Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson will make their season debuts for the Washington Capitals against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday, the Capitals announced.
Backstrom, 35, hasn’t played since Game 6 of the Capitals’ first-round playoff loss to the Florida Panthers in 2022. The veteran center underwent relatively rare hip resurfacing surgery this summer , raise doubts whether he could return to the NHL.
Only one other player — longtime Florida Panthers and Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Ed Jovanovski — was able to play NHL games again after undergoing resurfacing surgery. Backstrom is ready to do two.
Wilson, 28, will also make his season debut on Sunday after spending months nursing a torn ACL he suffered in that playoff run against the Panthers last year.
Backstrom and Wilson both won the Stanley Cup with the Capitals in 2018 and have established themselves as key players alongside Alex Ovechkin over the years. They will surely give the Capitals – currently fourth in the Metropolitan Division, but on a blistering streak – another big boost.
To help welcome the returns of Backstrom and Wilson, the Capitals placed injured defenseman John Carlson on the long-term injured reserve and assigned forward Aliaksei Protas to the American Hockey League.
Wilson set new career highs in the 2021-22 season with 24 goals and 52 points in 78 games played. He added another goal in Game 1 against the Panthers before suffering his serious injury.
As for Backstrom, he had six goals and 31 points in 47 games with the Capitals during the regular season and had six more points (two goals, four assists) in six playoff games.
Backstrom still has two years left on his current contract, which carries a cap of $9.2 million. Wilson is signed through 2024 at an average annual value of $5.167 million.
The Capitals will host the Blue Jackets at Capital One Arena in DC at 5:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.