106 points. That’s how many points the three Swedish players (Nicklas Backstrom, Andre Burakovsky, Marcus Johansson) have combined to score in 52 games this season. While Backstrom has always been a quiet superstar, Johansson and Burakovsky have both broken out this season as legitimate building blocks of the Capitals’ future. Burakovsky, especially, has emerged as a cornerstone for the franchise going forward.
The Capitals have always been lined with Swedish players, whether it be Backstrom, Johansson, Burakovsky, or former players such as Calle Johansson and Michael Nylander. The fact that all three of the current Swedes on the roster are former first-round picks speaks to the team’s ability to find talent. But this season, the three have all taken strides in their game and it’s helped propel the Caps to the NHL’s best record and a team that has the pieces to legitimately contend for a Stanley Cup.
Since the beginning of the New Year, Backstrom has 16 points in 15 games played, Burakovsky 15 points in 15 games played, and Johansson 11 points in nine games played. This means that the three Swedes have a combined 42 points in 35 games played. Burakovsky, in particular, has taken his game to another level. During the first 34 games of the season (October-December), the 21-year old Burakovsky had just three goals and nine points. As mentioned before, he’s been all over the ice and has finally started to display the talent that got him drafted 23rd overall in 2013.
Johansson too, has been having himself one heck of a season as well. After being handed a $3.75 million deal in arbitration last summer after recording a career-high 20 goals and 47 points last season, Johansson is on pace for a career best 23 goals and 55 points. At just 25-years old, MoJo will almost certainly be worth more than $3.75 million.
As the Capitals’ quest for the Stanley Cup continues, the play of Backstrom, Johansson, and Burakovsky will need to continue. And judging by what they’ve done so far, it may only get better.
By Michael Fleetwood