Three days after being cleared to participate in practices without any restrictions, Nicklas Backstrom has taken another step forward in his recovery from a concussion.
General Manager George McPhee said Backstrom passed the baseline neuropsychological test on Tuesday, which was one of the requirements for him to receive medical clearance to return to the lineup.
“He did pass his test today with flying colors, which is really good news,” McPhee said. “He performed better on this than he did on the baseline [test conducted during training camp]. We’ll see where it goes from here but it looks like the worst is behind for Nicky.”
There remains no timetable for the center’s return to the lineup but McPhee was adamant that the ultimate decision would be made by Backstrom himself. The Capitals will not push the 24-year-old Swede to get back into a game until he feels ready.
“I would have liked him in the lineup 50 games ago. Obviously he’s a terrific player but it’s got to be his decision,” McPhee said. “We’re not going to put any pressure on him to play. He’s got to be comfortable and we’re not going to put this kid at risk by telling him we need him to play et cetera.
“He’s a grownup and he knows how he feels,” McPhee continued. “He’ll make the decision as to whether he plays or not.”
A few other notes from McPhee:
●Goaltending prospect Philipp Grubauer underwent surgery to repair a torn tendon in his right (blocking side) wrist. McPhee confirmed that the surgery is expected to end Grubauer’s season but said the Capitals are hopeful he will be ready for development camp.
● Asked about the situation with highly-touted Russian prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov, who has yet to sign an entry-level NHL contract, McPhee replied “There’s really nothing going on there at this point.”