Washington Capitals: Projecting Nicklas Backstrom’s next contract

Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

If the Washington Capitals re-sign Nicklas Backstrom next summer, what would his future contract look like?

Now that the Washington Capitals have essentially locked in the 2019-2020 iteration of the team — with some minor salary cap finagling to do — the team will now turn its attention to the biggest matter at hand: Nicklas Backstrom’s contract extension.

Backstrom has said he wants to remain in Washington and sign an extension. General Manager Brian MacLellan has said that he would get sentimental with Backstrom’s next contract. It’s just a matter of what that could look like.

While it’s difficult to specifically nail down a comparable for Backstrom like it was for Braden Holtby, there’s a few contracts that could lead us in the right direction.

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As Japers Rink pointed out, Joe Thornton signed a three-year, seven million dollar deal when he was 32 years old after the 2011 season. That deal accounted for 10.9 percent of the San Jose Sharks’ cap space, which would roughly equate to (taking into account a rise in the cap) a $9.1 million dollar deal for the Capitals.

In the three seasons prior, Thornton had tallied 86, 89 and 70 points in each year. In Backstrom’s last three seasons, he’s notched 86, 71 and 74 points. And while Thornton had a more decorated (at least individually) past than Backstrom has had, a number of 9.1 isn’t far off from what we can expect.

Looking elsewhere, fellow 31-year-old Jonathan Toews currently has a cap hit of $10.5 million dollars in Chicago. While he had his best season — significantly so — in a few years last year, Toews is a somewhat similar player to Backstrom.

Toews, however, is attached at the hip with Patrick Kane as the Blackhawks’ faces of the franchise so his contract should be graded on a curve. Toews has also registered 40 or more assists just twice since the 2010-11 season. While it may not seem like it on the surface, there’s a good-sized lead for Backstrom when it comes to on-ice performance over Toews.

But whatever contract Backstrom earns, it’ll be tough to argue he doesn’t deserve it.

In 895 career games in Washington, he’s scored 231 goals and 642 assists for 873 career points. He’s been just under a point a game player for the majority of his career, and since 2007-2008, is the league leader in assists with 641. Sidney Crosby would likely hold this spot, but injuries ensured he fell to second.

Backstrom also has more than 50 assists in each of the last six seasons. He’s the 26th player in NHL history to accomplish this feat — 23 are in the Hockey Hall of Fame and the other two (Thornton and Henrik Sedin) are simply not eligible yet.

So as the Capitals will have about 20 million dollars in cap space, with 10 forwards, four defensemen and a goalie under contract, they can afford getting sentimental as MacLellan previously suggested. If there’s anyone who has earned it, it’s Backstrom.

After 10 years of being a relative bargain at $6.7 million per season, Backstrom is due for a significant pay raise. Should he walk into the Capitals front office and ask for a blank check, the team’s hands would be essentially tied.

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The question now appears to be not if Backstrom will be re-signed, but for how long and for how much?