Over and over we hear how Nicklas Backstrom is one of the most under-rated centers in the NHL. We couldn’t agree more. Just because he is one of the quiet Swedes on the teams doesn’t mean he shouldn’t get the recognition he deserves. He is after all, one of the best players in the NHL.
From the time he arrived in Washington and joined the Capitals in 2007, he has maintained a solid performance which has improved with every year. This past season was his best yet since the 2009-10 season. Then he recorded 101 points 33 goals and 68 assists. By the end of the 2016/17 regular season he had racked up 86 points (23 goals and 63 assists) ending with a new career high of 540 assists.
One of the highlights of the season was celebrating the 500 NHL career assists milestone that he set. It is one of the few times we have seen him smile about his accomplishments, while maintaining that humble attitude that we have come to respect so much about him.
- Nicky led the team in overall points, followed by Alexander Ovechkin with 69 points.
- He led in assists, followed by Evegeny Kuznetsov with 40 assists.
- And he ranked fifth on the team with goals, only 10 behind team leaders Ovechkin and TJ Oshie with their 33 goals.
- When it comes to power play goals, he is second only to Ovi scoring eight to Alex’s 17.
- He had five game winning goals to Ovi’s seven.
- Nicky leads the team in power play assists at 27.
Nicky may not be out on the ice hitting opponents or blocking shots which keeps him out of many of the highlight reels. However, he has the highest number of face off wins for the team and the fourth highest face off win percentage. He does what he does with precision. He reads the ice and knows where the players are so he can get the puck to them to score. And little by little, every year he get more pucks in the net as he takes more chances to score.
Backstrom always has a solid showing in the playoffs and this past season was one of his best. It explains why he is one of the most frustrated players on the team when they are cleaning out lockers far too early. He gave it is his all with six goals and seven assists. And that was with line changes. It doesn’t matter who you line him up with, he is always going to come through and bring the best out of his line mates. In nine seasons of going to the playoffs, he has recorded five game-winning goals. He is the team’s rock star in the playoffs, quietly going about winning.
There is much to be accomplished in the coming season. There will be few changes. The one solid that the management can count on right now is Nicklas Backstrom. HE is their guy and we hope that they can restructure a winning team around him.