As the Washington Capitals kick off training camp on Thursday, there’s new optimism about organizational stalwarts Niklas Backstrom, Who said he was “pain free” for the first time in years Hip resurfacing surgery in June.

Backstrom will start the year on the sidelines but said he’s “optimistic” he’ll play at some point this season. The 34-year-old said the surgery was “life-changing”, giving him both a better chance of continuing his NHL career and improving his quality of life. He can once again pick up his socks, tie his own shoelaces and play with the children without any discomfort.

“You want to finish the game your way, not because of injury and feeling like you’re playing something you don’t want to play,” Backstrom said. “That’s a big part of it (having surgery). I’m optimistic I can do it now.

Capitals open training camp with new goaltender and same expectations

with Backstrom, Thomas Wilson Karl Hagreen and Karl Hagreen are both expected to miss the start of the season as they recover from injury and surgery. Winger TJ Oshie, who required surgery this offseason, did not skate at the start of training camp but is expected to be back on Friday.

Wilson, Who had ACL surgery in May, said his recovery is going well and is going well. One of the biggest hurdles he faces is the mental side of recovery, knowing that his knee may feel 100% better, but it still needs more time. There is no timeline for Wilson’s return.

Capitals open training camp with new goaltender and same expectations

“From day one, I felt like I was a bit ahead of myself, but unfortunately that didn’t mean anything,” Wilson said. “Obviously I want to be as good as possible every day, but there’s still a wait.”

Hagelin, who suffered an eye injury in early March that resulted in two surgeries and left his NHL future uncertain, is also struggling with a lingering lower extremity injury. Capitals general manager Brian McClellan said Hagelin has been playing with an injury for a while and things have gotten worse recently. Surgery was a possible option; he was absent indefinitely.

A few weeks after the end of the season, Oshe underwent surgery for an injury he suffered in late March. Oshie skipped Thursday’s ice skating test and watched from the sidelines with Hagelin, Wilson and Backstrom. Oshie said he was “almost” back at 100% and expected to train on Friday.

Washington wants to keep Oshie out of Thursday’s skate test so he doesn’t put too much pressure on himself before the regular season begins. Oshie wore unofficial skates all summer and wore a full-contact jersey throughout the group stage.

With so many injuries, Washington will rely on old and new faces, including Dylan Strom and Conor Brown, both expected to play key roles. Brown is likely to temporarily replace Wilson as the team’s top right-winger. Strom will likely be competing with Conor McMichael for the second-row center spot.

“We’re losing the majority of our team, so I think it’s still a challenge,” McClellan said. “I think we added some good players. I think it will make training camp interesting to see how people fit in, how they fit in and see what the coaching mix is. People will have the opportunity to play a bigger role in the team. .”

Captain Alex Ovechkin, who scored 50 goals last season, and a surging Yevgeny Kuznetsov carried the burden when injuries struck in the first half. Washington will again depend on them.

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Ovechkin chases NHL all-time record with just 22 Beyond Goldie Howe Number two on the list. But he’s not focused on milestones right now, especially the first day of training camp. Washington hasn’t won a playoff since win the stanley cup 2018; Ovechkin is determined to change that.

“I’m at a good age for personal goals, but we understand that every year (you get closer) your career ends,” Ovechkin said. “So I just want to win. I want to get into the playoffs and fight for the trophies.

Kuznetsov, who scored 24 goals and 54 assists last season, is also expected to meet and exceed his lofty expectations this term. He felt the added pressure last year and pushed everyone to play better, even if the end result wasn’t what Washington wanted.

“When there is pressure, you can use it as motivation,” Kuznetsov said. “You have to understand that when you represent this team there are always expectations, to some degree.”

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