Capitals get it right with Nicklas Backstrom extension

The Washington Capitals have re-signed Nicklas Backstrom for five more years.

One of the biggest storylines entering the season was one year left on the contract of Nicklas Backstrom. It was an alarming sign but many Washington Capitals fans had the faith that a deal will be done. On Tuesday morning, both sides agreed to a five-year extension.

Backstrom’s deal will be worth $46 million which will carry an average annual value (AAV) of $9.2 million. The 32-year old leads the franchise in all-time assists with 668 and is one of two players to record at least 900 points with the Capitals. We all know Alex Ovechkin is the other and the duo recently played their 900th NHL game together.

Backstrom made his NHL debut on Oct. 5, 2007 against the Atlanta Thrashers. Since that debut, which saw him assist on Michael Nylander’s goal to begin the season, Backstrom leads the league with 668 assists despite ranking 17th in games played during that stretch.

Backstrom is the only active player in the NHL to record 50 or more assists in six straight seasons. He is the 26th player to accomplish this in NHL history and one of just two active players. The other is Joe Thornton of the San Jose Sharks. 23 of the 25 players are in the Hockey Hall of Fame while Thornton and Henrik Sedin are not yet eligible.

Backstrom has scored at least 20 goals and 50 assists the last four seasons. So far this season, Backstrom has 35 points (9 goals, 26 assists) in 39 games. Backstrom has a 52.1 shot attempt percentage at even strength which ranks him first among Capitals forwards with at least 13 minutes per game at five-on-five.

Back in November contract discussions began between Backstrom and Caps general manager Brian MacLellan. With no agent, Backstrom represented himself in negotiations. The only initial disagreement was the contract length. The Caps wanted three years while Backstrom wanted to go five. Ultimately, he got his wish and deservedly so.

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Backstrom told reporters at the conclusion of last season about his desire to remain in Washington. With that deal done, the Capitals now turn their attention towards Braden Holtby’s contract situation. Holtby is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 unless a new deal is reached but it’ll be a tough decision given the way Ilya Samsonov has played this season.

Whatever happens to Holtby doesn’t change the fact that a deal needs to get done with Alex Ovechkin as next season will be the final season of his deal. With two players that have a legitimate chance to get their numbers hung to the rafters years from now, at least we know one of them will most likely finish his career as a Capital.


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