We have all heard and even read about the long term contract extension for Nicklas Backstrom.
Very long term. A decade!
Backy signs a 10 year deal worth $67 million to stay a Washington Capital through the 2019/20 season. For the next 10 years, one thing is very clear and answered for the Washington Capitals, Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom will be the fundamental core of everything the Capitals do to continue to build the roster.
Kudos to Caps owner Ted Leonsis. Again, he has stepped up to the plate and reasserted his commitment to building a winner in Washington. He did so far by locking superstar Ovechkin up for 13 years. Now he antes up to keep Backstrom here for a decade. These two players are two of the best hockey players on the planet and Leonsis wasn’t shy in assuring they were the center of the resurgence of Washington, DC hockey.
I have argued in the past, and do so today as well, that overall value, Nicklas Backstrom is indeed the most valuable player to the franchise. The term ‘valuable’ is in italics for a reason. I did not say Backstrom is the best player on the roster, although there are those that will argue that point. I said he is the most valuable.
Why? Over Ovechkin? Am I nuts?
Alex Ovechkin to me is the best player on the planet. No question. The fact Montreal ousted Washington in Round 1 does not change that. He is intense, dynamic, and the most prolific scorer in the NHL. I won’t argue that point, because I believe it. What I am saying is in terms of value on the ice, when Ovechkin is absent, the Capitals have scorers that step up. We saw it last year when Ovechkin missed 8 games. Players like Tomas Fleischmann, Eric Fehr, Mike Knuble, and others stepped up and tallied goals. In fact, some will argue the Caps offense seem to be freer flowing because of different players taking more shots rather than looking for passes to Great 8.
Backstrom brings a bit more because he is asked to do more as Center. Backstrom is arguably the best passer in the NHL. His incredible passing skills set up so many other goals besides his own. He is a master at setting up scoring opportunities. Backstrom also developed more this season into a scorer himself. He is tough, hits hard, and leads on the ice. But it is that ability to create scoring opportunities with keen, strong passing that make Bacstrom irreplaceable and valuable. That cant just be replaced. Backstrom’s passing is an art he has perfected. Many NHL skaters simply don’t have that high of passing skill. His passing also has helped power the Capitals regular season power play to number one overall.
Many NHL fans see one stat, one stat only, goals scored. That is what they use to determine who is good, who is not. And that is wrong. Backstrom’s unique passing skills and scoring set up abilities make him that much more valuable and potent on ice. The unique instincts we have watched #19 develop can only develop so far. Backstrom takes it to a whole new level. Some of what Backstrom does can't be coached or taught or practiced. It is just a blessing for some rare players. Backstrom is one of those.
In 2008/09 Backstrom record 66 assists. In 2009/10 he recorded 68 assists. Averaged together, that is 67 million reasons to keep Backstrom in Washington for a long time. Great deal for Backstrom, great deal for the Capitals, and an even better deal for Caps fans.