Mike Halford

Nicklas Backstrom

Backstrom (hip) takes line rushes with Caps

Big week coming up for Washington and injured No. 1 center Nicklas Backstrom.

Backstrom, who underwent hip surgery this summer and missed the Caps’ season-opening win over New Jersey, took line rushes with his teammates on Monday and will meet with his surgeon this week about potential medical clearance.

Per the Post, Backstrom rotated in on the Caps’ second line with Marcus Johansson, Andre Burakovsky and Justin Williams today; he also wore a red jersey as opposed to a light blue non-contact jersey, so he could participate in some contact drills.

Originally, the club said Backstrom would miss the first 4-5 games of the season, which partly had to do with the schedule.

Beginning Tuesday, the Caps will embark on a busy stretch that sees them play six times in 10 nights, and three of those games come at home this week: Tuesday against San Jose, Thursday against Chicago and Saturday against Carolina.

After that stretch, the Caps then head west for a road trip through Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.

Ailing ‘Canes lose Nash to shoulder injury

Riley Nash, Trent Vogelhuber

It’s been a tough start to the season for Carolina.

Having already lost its first two games, and veteran d-man James Wisniewski to a torn ACL — an injury that could sideline him for the entire season — the ‘Canes will now be without the services of forward Riley Nash for 10-14 days.

Nash, 26, left Saturday’s game against Detroit with what was later revealed to be a shoulder injury.

The former Oilers draftee is a regular contributor in Carolina, so his absence will hurt. Nash scored a career-best 25 points last year, and was manning a third-line role in between Jeff Skinner and Chris Terry to start Satuday’s game.

Report: Ex-NHLer Aaron Ward arrested for ‘assault on a female’ (Updated)

Brad May, Kevin Hodson, Jiri Fischer, Aaron Ward

Aaron Ward, a 16-year NHL veteran that appeared in over 800 career games, has been arrested for “assault on a female,” per WNCN.

Ward was arrested on Friday in Cary, North Carolina and also charged with interfering with emergency communication, according to the report.

Currently working as an analyst for TSN, Ward spent five years of his career in Carolina, helping the ‘Canes capture the Stanley Cup in 2006.

Update: Per WRAL, Ward’s wife called 9-1-1 after the two had a confrontation around 1 p.m. ET. Police confirmed Ward was arrested at his home in Cary.

According to the warrant for his arrest, he took away his wife’s phone.

Because of the nature of his charges, Ward will spend a mandatory 48 hours in the Wake County jail. Anyone arrested on a domestic violence charge is held for 48 hours before bail is set.

And here’s a statement from TSN:

Update: Wisniewski tore ACL 47 seconds into ‘Canes debut

James Wisniewski, John-Michael Liles, Elias Lindholm

Last night, we passed along news that veteran d-man James Wisniewski — acquired from Carolina at the draft — suffered what looked to be a serious injury just 47 seconds into his ‘Canes debut, and was ruled out for the remainder of the night.

Now, he’s been ruled out for a lot longer than that.

From the club:

Ron Francis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that defenseman James Wisniewski will undergo surgery on his left knee after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during Thursday night’s game in Nashville.

Recovery time for the injury is estimated at six months.

This is, obviously, a tough development for both player and club. The ‘Canes were counting on Wisniewski to be a regular contributor on defense this year, and help improve last year’s middle-of-the-pack power play.

Wisniewski, meanwhile, was looking to bounce back from a disappointing ’14-15 campaign. He was shipped out of Columbus at the deadline to Anaheim but never made an impact for the Ducks, failing to see any playoff action as Anaheim made it all the way to the Western Conference final.

Ducks ink Despres, acquired in Lovejoy trade, to five-year, $18.5M deal

Simon Despres

Fairly big move out of Anaheim on Friday, as the Ducks have inked defenseman Simon Despres to a five-year, $18.5 million deal, per TVA.

The $3.7 million cap hit represents a nice pay bump for Despres, who’s in the last of a two-year deal that pays $900K annually. A former first-round pick, Despres was acquired by the Ducks from Pittsburgh at last year’s deadline in exchange for Ben Lovejoy, a move that was widely questioned.

Why questioned?

Probably because the guy that made it, Pens GM Jim Rutherford, admitted it was a mistake.

“If I had a chance to make that trade today, as we speak, I wouldn’t make it,” he told the Tribune-Review in late May. “I knew at the time, over time, the trade would certainly be in Anaheim’s favor. But at the time we made it, and the reasons we made it for, I still feel it was the right thing to do.”

Despres, 24, has shown well in Anaheim since the deal.

He had six points in 16 games last year while averaging just under 19 minutes per night, and was a big part of the club’s run to the Western Conference final, scoring seven points in 16 playoff games with his TOI going over 20 per.

Lovejoy, meanwhile, looks like he’ll be a bottom-pairing guy on a Pittsburgh defense that isn’t especially deep. He played just 16:28 in Thursday’s season-opening loss to Dallas; only Brian Dumoulin played less.