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.
#Caps spokesman confirms Nicklas Backstrom is on LTIR.— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) February 27, 2012
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.
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