WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 20: Nicklas Backstrom #19 of the Washington Capitals celebrates after scoring a game against the Nashville Predators during the first period at Verizon Center on December 20, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Nicklas Backstrom Placed On Long-Term Injured Reserve Ahead Of 2012 NHL Trade Deadline

The Washington Capitals placed center Nicklas Backstrom on long-term injured reserve ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline, clearing some room under the cap and increasing speculation that they could make a move.

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NHL Trade Deadline 2012: Nicklas Backstrom Placed On LTIR By Washington Capitals To Free Up Cap Space

Nicklas Backstrom hasn't played a game since the beginning of 2012, and it's not a coincidence that the Washington Capitals waited until the morning of the 2012 NHL Trade Deadline to place the center on long-term injured reserve.

By placing Backstrom on LTIR, the Caps are allowed to exceed the salary cap by his $6.7 million cap hit, thus freeing up space to potentially make a move before Monday's deadline. Should the Capitals make the postseason, Backstrom could return without general manager George McPhee clearing that space again, but he wouldn't be able to play in the regular season without the team having room for his cap hit.

The Capitals are in the thick of the Southeast Division race and are undoubtedly the most talented team in the mix there, but they've been inconsistent all season long. Perhaps McPhee believes a deadline deal will give them the necessary boost they need to get to the postseason yet again.

You can get team-by-team coverage of the 2012 NHL trade deadline from around our network of hockey blogs. For more on the news, rumors and speculation surrounding the trade deadline, subscribe to our StoryStream.

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