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Backstrom undergoes hip surgery, set for 'lengthy recovery'

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Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom underwent left hip resurfacing surgery on Friday, the team announced.

There's no specific timeline, but the club noted he will begin his rehab and "lengthy recovery process" immediately.

Backstrom missed the first 28 games of the 2021-22 regular season while recovering from a hip injury. The 34-year-old posted six goals and 25 assists in 47 contests. His 0.66 points per game marked a career low.

"The hip's not going to be 100%," Backstrom said May 15, two days after the Caps were eliminated from the playoffs. "That's something we all know. Some days are good. Some days are less good. That’s just life."

This isn't Backstrom's first hip surgery. He underwent an arthroscopic procedure in 2015, but Friday's surgery is considered more serious.

Hip resurfacing surgery is a form of hip replacement surgery. Ryan Kesler is the most notable NHL player to undergo the procedure in recent memory. He did so in 2019 and it effectively ended his playing career.

Without Backstrom, the Capitals' center depth is made up by Evgeny Kuznetsov, Lars Eller, Connor McMichael, and Nic Dowd, though it's possible they add more options down the middle in the offseason.

Backstrom has three years left on his contract with a $9.2-million cap hit. Washington can free up that money by placing him on long-term injured reserve to begin the 2022-23 campaign if he's required to miss time.

Selected by the Capitals with the No. 4 pick in 2006, Backstrom has spent his entire 15-year career in Washington. He's been a staple of consistency ever since, reaching the 70-point mark eight times. The Swede is the Capitals' franchise leader in assists (747) and ranks second behind Alex Ovechkin in points (1,011).

Since entering the NHL in 2007-08, only Patrick Kane has tallied more assists, and only Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Kane, and Evgeni Malkin have recorded more points.

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