Underappreciated Backstrom Deserves All-Star Nod

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 06: Nicklas Backstrom #19 of the Washington Capitals looks on against the Winnipeg Jets in the third period during an NHL game at the Verizon Center on February 6, 2014 in Washington, DC. The Washington Capitals won, 4-2. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

opinion The Washington Capitals are off to their best start in franchise history with 54 points through 34 games. The Caps are currently three points behind the Dallas Stars for the top record in the NHL, but the Caps also have three games in hand.  Much of the success can be attributed to factors such as the emergence of Evgeny Kusnetsov and the stellar play of Braden Holtby in net, but let’s not forget about Nicklas Backstrom.

Possibly the most underrated player in the NHL, Backstrom’s solid two-way play has been key to the early success of this hockey team. He absolutely deserves to be named to his first all-star team this year.

Backstrom currently ranks 13th in the NHL with 21 assists, but it’s worth noting that he missed the first three games of this season recovering from offseason hip surgery. Nicky scores 1 point/game, which is good for 12th in the NHL. He leads the 2006 draft class in points, which includes players such as Jonathan Toews (4x all-star), Phil Kessel (3x all-star), and Claude Giroux (3x all-star). Nick has ranked in the top-4 in assists in 5 out of the last 7 seasons.

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Every person in the Washington Capitals organization understands how important Nicklas Backstrom is to this team. He is the orchestrator of the Caps power play, which currently ranks 2nd in the league at 25.2%. Backstrom is always sent out in key moments to kill penalties, score goals, or do whatever is asked of him to help the Caps win games.

No, Nicklas Backstrom isn’t the flashiest player. He doesn’t have the fastest pair of legs, the hardest slap shot, or the fanciest stick handles. However, he does own a lethally accurate wrist shot and arguably the best passing skills in the NHL. His creative passing consistently sets up his teammates for quality chances to bury the puck in the back of the net.

So, how has Nicklas Backstrom never made an all-star team you ask? Well … no one really knows. He may not be having his best statistical season so far, but because he has been snubbed from the team so many times in past seasons, he deserves to make the team this year. The Capitals are off to a fantastic start, and Nicklas Backstrom is a huge reason why this team has been so tough to beat this year.

during a game at Madison Square Garden on December 23, 2014 in New York City.

Alex Trautwig/Getty Images

(All stats courtesy of NHL.com)

Top-10 in assists:
2014-2015 (1)
2013-2014 (3)
2012-2013 (3)
2009-2010 (3)
2008-2009 (4)
2007-2008 (11)

2015-2016 currently ranks 13th with 21 Assists in 31 games, 12th in P/GP, 18th in Points

P/GP:
2014-2015 (6)
2013-2014 (11)
2012-2013 (20)
2011-2012 (8)
2009-2010 (5)
2008-2009 (8)

2006 Draft Class
Kessel – 3x all-star
Toews – 4x all-star
Giroux – 3x all-star

Backstrom is first in points among this draft class

By Gabe Meade

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His passion for the Caps has grown over the decades, which has included time as a season ticket holder, social media and community organizer, and most recently led to the founding of NoVa Caps in 2014. Jon earned a Bachelor's of Science in Engineering at Old Dominion University, and is a Systems Engineer during intermissions, which has been instrumental in supporting his Capitals habit.
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