28-Year-Old Center – Washington Capitals
Nicklas Backstrom Contract Information:
Agreed to a 10-year, $67 million contract with the Capitals in May of 2010.
Backstrom produced 20 goals and 70 points in the regular season and added a pair of goals and nine assists in the playoffs.
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Although he struggled at even strength like many of his teammates, Backstrom’s work on the power play helped him to turn in a solid campaign. With 38 power-play assists and 44 points on the man advantage, Backstrom led all NHLers in both categories. One of the better two-way players in the game, Backstrom's minus-20 rating should be considered an anomaly, as the talented playmaker should thrive as an all-around player under the new regime, and even merit Selke Trophy consideration this season. Though underwhelming as a goal scorer, Backstrom should still be one of the first centers off the board. He has point-per-game upside heading into 2014-2015, as he’ll once again play next to one of the game’s elite goal scorers in Alex Ovechkin.
Backstrom scored just eight goals last season but ranked third in the league in assists with 40. He missed a considerable part of the 2011-2012 season with concussion issues and injuries are still a bit of a concern here. Keeping Backstrom healthy and fresh will be a major priority for Coach Adam Oates especially since this is an Olympic year and Backstrom can be expected to be a major part of Sweden’s National Team. The ubiquitous GEICO pitchman remains a solid source of points but don’t overpay, his highwater mark of 101 points way back in 2009-10 will be difficult to repeat.
Backstrom has had two consecutive disappointing seasons after signing a large contract with the Capitals before the 2010-2011 season. He missed half of last season due to a concussion suffered in early January, but managed 44 points and 95 shots in 42 games. This fall, he may be a cheap buy due to his low totals last year, but don't wait too long. He's a tremendous playmaker and there are worse players than Alexander Ovechkin to have on your wing. Look for Backstrom's goals to be in the mid-20ï¿½s, shots in the upper 100ï¿½s, and points just shy of 100 if he stays healthy.
Backstrom had his worst season as a pro last year and many critics say the big contract he received went to his head. With that lesson out of the way, look for the young pivot to get back on track and push the 100-point mark and 200-shot plateau. He also has only missed five games in his four-year career, which is something to keep in mind on draft day. If your opponents pass on him due to one down year, grab him and reap the benefits of having one of the top centers in the league.
Backstrom continues to show why he is one of the league’s fastest rising stars. Not only did he collect 101 points (33 G, 68 A) in just his third NHL season, but like teammate Alex Ovechkin, Backstrom sinks a great deal of his shots taken per year: 12.6% average, to be exact. Something else to like about Backstrom is the fact that he has not missed a game in his three-year career. Draft him high and enjoy the ride as he often centers the league's top winger.
Backstrom's second full season was somewhat of an encore of his rookie season. He posted 88 points (22G, 66A), which was 17 more than 2007-08. He showed how valuable he is to the team and the top line and how much potential he really has. He has a knack for setting up goals, having combined for 121 assists over the past two seasons. It helps when Ovechkin is one of your wingers, of course, but he is showing what he can do and is making a name for himself in the league. He tallied three goals and 12 assists in the 14 playoff games and should man the top line on the power play this season. The assist machine should benefit again with the line he plays with and has a great chance at cracking 100 points if he decides to shoot a little more.
Backstrom got off to a slow start in his rookie campaign last season, but when second-line center Michael Nylander was lost for the season, he took advantage of his opportunity. The rookie turned into an assist machine, finishing the season with 55, while adding 14 goals and finishing with a plus 13 rating. He also saw significant time (4:02 per game) on the power play tallying 25 of his points on the advantage. He will likely man the top-line this season and continue to see significant power play time. Playing alongside Alex Ovechkin and Viktor Kozlov for a full season increases his value tremendously. His upside is enormous and has the potential to put up 80 – 90 points.
After being selected with the fourth overall pick in the 2006 draft, the then-18-year-old Backstrom decided to spend one more year in the Swedish Elite League to gain some additional seasoning before making the leap across the pond to the NHL. He made a serious impression, leading one of the worldâ€™s top leagues in points for much of the season before finishing tops on his team with 40 points in 45 games. Backstrom then repeated his feats on the international stage at the World Junior Hockey Championships, leading the Swedish team and finishing 10th in the tournament with seven points in seven games. He'll likely center the Caps' second line alongside the talented Alexander Semin, and is a frontrunner for the Calder Trophy as the NHL rookie of the year.
Backstrom, the fourth overall pick in the 2006 NHL entry draft, has loads of talent and should center the Caps' top line and skate alongside Alexander Ovechkin for years to come. Unfortunately for the Caps, Backstrom decided that he wouldn't start his NHL career this season, instead opting to stay in Sweden. If he's elibigle to be drafted in keeper leagues, he's a good one to hold onto for next season.
Backstrom has been compared to fellow Swede Peter Forsberg. His offensive talents may be similar but he isn't the physical force Forsberg is. He makes tape-to-tape passes and has a zamboni full of hockey smarts. He'll be a fixture on the first line in Washington for a very long time, and his fantasy production will be forever linked to future linemate Alex Ovechkin.