Capitals breakdown: Nicklas Backstrom

Capitals breakdown: Nicklas Backstrom
May 28, 2013, 7:30 am
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CSNWashington.com Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley will evaluate the 2012-13 performance of each player on the Caps roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in alphabetical order. Today: Nicklas Backstrom

Nicklas Backstrom

Position: Center

Shoots: Left

Age: 25

Ht/Wt: 6-1, 205

Games: 48

Goals: 8

Assists: 40

Points: 48

Penalty minutes: 20

Plus-Minus: Plus-8

Average Ice Time: 19:54

Contract Status: 7 years remaining on 10-year, $67 million contract [$6.7 million cap hit]

Strengths: Backstrom rebounded nicely from his previous season, when he missed half the year with a concussion, finishing third in the NHL in assists and 13th in points. He was a major part of Alex Ovechkin’s revival, and his 18 power-play points helped fuel the NHL’s No. 1 power play. Reunited with Ovechkin on March 12, Backstrom finished the regular season with 27 points in his final 24 games.

Weaknesses: Although he averaged a point a game there were times Backstrom lacked the aggressiveness along the wall that characterized his first four seasons in the NHL. Last year’s concussion woes might have been a contributing factor, but Backstrom’s point production in the playoffs the past three years [3 goals, 10 assists in 29 games] has been unremarkable. 

Memorable Moment: On April 2 in Carolina, Backstrom helped orchestrate a 5-3 come-from-behind win when he assisted on a pair of goals by Ovechkin and two more by Mike Green. It marked the seventh time in his career that Backstrom recorded four assists in one game. He is the only player in the NHL to accomplish that feat since he arrived in the league in 2007.

2013-14 Expectations: It’s hard to ask for much more than a point a game in today’s NHL, but Backstrom admitted after the playoffs that he needs to be better. His goal totals have dropped steadily since he netted a career-high 33 in 2009-10 and that will need to improve if he’s going to help the Caps get over the playoff hump.