Author: Ryan Dadoun

Nicklas Backstrom
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Caps expecting to be without Backstrom for first four games

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Nicklas Backstrom wasn’t sure how long he’d be sidelined for, but Capitals coach Barry Trotz now seems to have a rough idea of how much time he’ll miss.

“He won’t start the season,” Trotz said, per the Washington Post. “I know that for sure. I wouldn’t think that’d he’d play through those first four games.”

In other words, Backstrom isn’t expected to participate in Washington’s opening homestand, but he hasn’t been ruled out for the Capitals’ first road game on Oct. 20 in Calgary.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that he’ll be able to play against the Flames, but at this point Trotz would term a return at the start of November as the “worst-case scenario.” Washington plays 10 games in October.

Backstrom had arthroscopic hip surgery in May and previously stated that he’s not returning until he’s 100 percent.

While he’s gone, Evgeny Kuznetsov is projected to play alongside Alex Ovechkin on the top line while Andre Burakovsky will center the second unit. His health might also influence how the Capitals handle Derek Roy, who has been attending their camp on a tryout basis.

Jacobs not sure if there’s desire to expand, has concerns about Quebec

Jeremy Jacobs
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For those that want to believe that the NHL will ultimately expand to Las Vegas and Quebec City, Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs’ words might feel like a splash of cold water.

“There’s a lot of content there. There’s a lot of capability there, but I don’t know if there’s a desire or will within the board of the existing franchises for expansion yet,” Jacobs told ESPN. “They both made pretty interesting proposals. Both have very legitimate arenas in place and organizations in place. There’s a capacity out there, but I don’t know if there’s a will from a league standpoint.”

Jacobs feels the league is doing pretty well with 30 teams. Additionally, given the current geographical setup of the NHL, he would rather see expansion teams sprout up in the west. Las Vegas certainly fits that desire, but Quebec City obviously doesn’t.

That’s not the only thing that gives him pause about the Quebec bid though.

“Take a look at what’s gone up in Nevada — it’s scary. I mean, it really is. It’s a heck of an arena built there, and there’s a strong interest there,” Jacobs said. “Balance the fact, Quebec has a great hockey interest, [but] it’s an extraordinarily small market.”

By contrast, Jacobs feels a franchise in Seattle would be “natural” and he’d love to see a team in Houston. But Quebecor and Bill Foley were the only ones to apply for expansion for Quebec City and Las Vegas respectively, which he feels “speaks volumes.”

In order for the NHL to expand, three-quarters of the Board of Governors would have to give the plan their blessing. The executive committee will make a recommendation before they vote, but it’s worth emphasizing that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said that there’s no timetable on that process.

If the league does ultimately expand, Jacobs does believe it won’t take those teams long to become competitive thanks to the salary cap system.


Vegas group makes expansion pitch, fields ‘a lot of really good questions’

Quebec City’s NHL bid has a former Canadian prime minister on its side

Elias to open season on IR

Patrik Elias
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The New Jersey Devils will open the season with their all-time leader scorer on the injured reserve list, per

Patrik Elias is dealing with a sore knee that’s kept him off the ice since the start of the Devils’ training camp. It was declared that he wouldn’t play in any preseason games last week, but he wasn’t ready to dismiss the possibility of playing in the opener at that time.

The question now shifts to how long New Jersey will be without Elias’ services as they haven’t provided a timetable for his return.

The 39-year-old forward is entering the final season of his three-year, $16.5 million contract. Although he’s been fortunate enough to be fairly durable over the course of his lengthy career, he has been limited to less than 70 games in each of his last two campaigns.

Meanwhile, Kyle Palmieri sustained an undisclosed injury during a preseason game on Wednesday, but the Devils expect him to be fine for the opener.