The Capitals have placed top center Nicklas Backstrom on the long-term injured list, freeing up additional space under the salary cap as today’s 3 p.m. trading deadline approaches.

The move would give General Manager George McPhee about $7.6 million in room to maneuver, but the team would benefit from that full amount only if Backstrom is out for the rest of the regular season.

Given that the 24-year-old Swede has missed the past 25 games with a concussion and has skated for only five minutes over the past 52 days, it wouldn’t be too surprising if Backstrom were unable to return prior to the playoffs. During the postseason, there is no salary cap limit.

Backstrom’s placement on LTI is retroactive to Jan. 4, though, and because he has already missed over 10 games and 24 days he could potentially return at any time even before the postseason should the Capitals have the space for him to do so under the cap.

If you missed it, here is today’s hard-copy story on what the Capitals might do before today’s NHL trade deadline. Stay tuned for updates on Washington and around the league.