Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom skated at practice Tuesday wearing a non-contact jersey and could return from offseason arthroscopic hip surgery sooner than expected.
"Originally, it's zero to 10 games," general manager Brian MacLellan told the Washington Post. "Now, it seems to be four or five games. There's still uncertainty there, but looks like he's progressing well."
Coach Barry Trotz told the Post that Backstrom will see his surgeon next week to assess his recovery from the May 28 surgery while providing a clearer time frame for his return to the lineup. The Capitals open their regular season Saturday against the New Jersey Devils at Verizon Center.
"Nick is progressing very, very well," Trotz said.
Trotz also said the Capitals were encouraged enough by Backstrom's recovery to release veteran center Derek Roy from his professional tryout contract Monday.
"I didn't want to be in a situation where Derek Roy didn't have a role after a couple games," Trotz said. "All of a sudden, you just signed a player and you don't have a real defined role for him. That's what it really came to."