Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom, recovering from hip surgery, could return to practice this week, coach Barry Trotz told The Washington Post on Tuesday.
"[Backstrom] has been skating really well with controlled conditions," Trotz said. "I think once you get into practice, you've got to avoid people a little bit, so we'll see how he reacts to that."
Backstrom would not be subject to contact at practice. He had arthroscopic surgery on his left hip on May 27; the original timetable called for a recovery period of 4-6 months. He resumed skating in mid-August.
Backstrom appeared in all 96 games the Capitals played last season, including 14 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He led the NHL with 60 assists during the regular season and was sixth in points with 78. He had eight points in the playoffs.
Defenseman Brooks Orpik, who had offseason wrist surgery, also is expected to practice this week, Trotz said, and could play in a preseason game. Washington has three remaining: Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
The Capitals open the regular season Oct. 10 against the New Jersey Devils at Verizon Center.