Capitals breakdown: Nicklas Backstrom

Capitals breakdown: Nicklas Backstrom
May 25, 2012, 12:20 pm
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CSNWashington.com Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley will evaluate the 2011-12 performance of each player on the Caps roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in alphabetical order. Today: Nicklas BackstromNicklas Backstrom
Position: Center
Age: 24
HtWt: 6-1, 213
Games: 42
Goals: 14
Assists: 30
Points: 44
Penalty Minutes: 24
Plus-Minus: Minus-4
Average Ice Time: 19:09
Contract Status: 8 years remaining on 10-year, 67 million contract 6.7 million cap hit

Strengths: One of the NHLs most gifted offensive players, Backstrom showed he could create offense while playing in a defensive system. He was on pace for 28 goals, 63 assists and 91 points when he suffered a concussion that sidelined him for 40 games from Jan. 4 through March 28. Backstrom seemed to get stronger as the playoffs progressed, but it was clear that his lengthy layoff sapped him of some of his strength.

Weaknesses: Any time a 24-year-old star player suffers a serious concussion there are concerns about the potential for future head injuries. Backstrom admitted being tentative when he returned to the lineup and the fact he made it through the playoffs without any symptoms was a huge step in his recovery. Backstrom will need to spend the summer gaining back the strength he lost while remaining inactive for the better part of three months.

Memorable Moment on the ice: On the same Jan. 3 night he enjoyed a season-high three assists, Backstrom was elbowed in the chin by then-Calgary Flames forward Rene Bourque, putting him on the shelf for the next 40 games.

Memorable Moment off the ice: Following a training camp practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex on the morning of Sept. 17, Backstrom covered his face with a hoodie and smothered teammate Alex Ovechkin with a towel full of shaving cream in honor of Ovechkins 26th birthday.

2012-13 Expectations: With a full summer of conditioning under his belt, Backstrom should arrive in training camp in top shape and there is no reason he shouldnt be among the top 10 in NHL scoring next season, challenging Evgeni Malkin and Claude Giroux for a scoring title.