On Wednesday a rumor was floated that Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom was close to signing a deal with Dynamo Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League that would reunite him with Caps teammate Alex Ovechkin.
“I don’t know about that,” Backstrom told CSNWashington.com when asked about the possibility. “KHL? We’ll see about that.”
Today, the Swedish website svt.se (s/t Japers' Rink) reported that Backstrom has signed to play for Dynamo.
“I want to play hockey and this will be a fun challenge,” Backstrom told SVT sport.
Backstrom told CSNWashington.com last week that he had been trying to play in the Swedish Elite League but was stonewalled by the league’s refusal to sign NHL players to temporary contracts.
“If I leave, it will be to play hockey somewhere,” Backstrom said. “I’m not leaving unless I have a team to play for.”
One thing Backstrom was more than willing to discuss on Wednesday was how good his head is feeling. The 24-year-old center missed 40 games last season after getting elbowed in the head by Rene Bourque on Jan. 4.
Backstrom returned to the Caps’ lineup on March 31 and finished fifth on the club with 44 points in 42 games.
“I feel good,” Backstrom said. “I was a little down last year after I came back from my concussion. I feel good now. I’m skating every week and I feel all right. I just want to start playing again.”
Caps right wing Jay Beagle, who sat out 31 games with a concussion, has been working out with Backstrom for the past four weeks and said he thinks the talented Swede passes the back-to-work test.
“He looks real good,” Beagle said. “I hit him hard out there and he didn’t go down. I think he’s even stronger now than he’s been.”
Beagle, 27, said he’s happy the Capitals’ scouting staff was so cautious last season, saying it could have added years to his playing career.
“These things could be career-ending injuries,” he said. “If you go out and get hit again you don’t know. You could be done. Two concussions within a couple weeks is devastating.
“At the time, [sitting out] was frustrating and awful, but looking back at it I’m thankful for those trainers making sure I did it the right way. They prolonged my career.”