Nicklas Backstrom

Things looking up in D.C.: Backstrom is skating again


Surprise news from the Capitals this morning as concussed playmaker Nicklas Backstrom was on the ice this morning getting a skate in as Mike Vogel from the Caps’ website tweeted today. Even more surprising is the fact that this was Backstrom’s second day in a row that he’s skated, the first time he’s done that since early January.

Tarik El-Bashir of The Washington Post reports Backstrom skated for about 20 minutes. It’s a small step, but one that should give the Caps a mental lift for now. Backstrom has been out since January thanks to a hit in the head from then Flames forward Rene Bourque.

With the Capitals now with a four point lead on having the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race, if Backstrom is able to return to action this season it’ll be a huge lift to a team that’s severely missed their best setup man. Let’s not get too excited though, a 20 minute skate is just a quick breeze through and certainly not a full practice with contact.

If the Caps can make the playoffs and he’s able to come back by then, the East’s top teams might have to worry about dealing with a healthy and more dangerous team.

Torres offered in-person hearing, potentially setting up long suspension

Torres hit
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What will Raffi Torres get this time?

The 33-year-old forward that has become known primarily for his controversial hits has once again put himself in the sights of the NHL’s Department of Players Safety. They confirmed that he was offered an in-person hearing following his hit on Jakub Silfverberg Saturday night. He declined the opportunity to meet with them face-to-face, but the offer itself is an important detail because it gives the league the option to suspend him for more than five games.

It certainly seems like the stage is set for a lengthy suspension. For one thing, Torres is a repeat offender who once was banned from 25 games for his hit on Marian Hossa in 2012, although it was later reduced to 21 contests after an appeal. The NHL found that Torres was guilty of breaking three rules for that hit; namely interference, charging, and illegally hitting the head. The NHL is reviewing Torres’ latest incident for the same three violations.

You can see the hit below:

And here it is slowed down:

Torres got a match penalty and Silfverberg left the game. Fortunately, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said that Silfverberg could have returned, but was kept out for precautionary reasons.

Flames acquire Freddie Hamilton, brother of Dougie

Freddie Hamilton
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Roughly three months after acquiring Dougie Hamilton, the Calgary Flames have brought his brother on board too.

Freddie Hamilton was pried away from the Colorado Avalanche for the cost a 2016 conditional seventh-round draft pick, per the Avalanche’s website. The Flames announced that he will report to AHL Stockton.

Freddie, who is the older of the two at 23, is a center that excelled offensively in the OHL and has chipped in at the AHL level. However, he has just one point in 29 contests with Colorado and the San Jose Sharks.

This is obviously not a big trade, but perhaps Freddie will eventually become a solid member of the Flames’ supporting cast. If nothing else, it didn’t cost Calgary much to reunite the brothers. The duo previously played together with the Niagara IceDogs.