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For Caps fans, the play of star center Nicklas Backstrom is nothing new. Since making his NHL debut, the 29-year old Swede has been one of the NHL’s most underrated playmakers. And this season has been no different.
Through the first 26 games of the 2016-17 season, Backstrom has eight goals, 16 assists, and 24 points. Many times throughout the season, Backstrom has been the driving force behind the team’s success, whether it be his outstanding defensive play or clutch play. He is currently the team leader in scoring.
At times this season and in seasons past, Backstrom has been urged to shoot the puck more. This season, he has a shooting percentage of 14.3, more than his career percentage of 11.8. He’s currently on pace for 25 goals, 51 assists, and 76 points. With two assists in last night’s game against the Buffalo Sabres, Backstrom needs seven more assists to become the first player in franchise history to record 500 career assists, per Ben Raby of the Capitals Radio Network.
With 2 more assists tonight, #Caps Nicklas Backstrom is now 7 helpers shy of becoming first player in franchise history w/500 career assists
— Ben Raby (@BenRaby31) December 10, 2016
Coming into this season, Backstrom averaged 18 goals, 53 assists, and 71 points a season. Despite this impressive production, Backstrom has played in only ONE All-Star Game (the 2016 ASG last season). After finishing second in Calder Trophy voting his rookie season behind Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane, Backstrom has not been a major contender for any award since.
Throughout his career, Backstrom has been one of the best defensive forwards in the league, with many fans and head coach Barry Trotz lobbying for him to win the Selke Trophy, as the NHL’s best defensive forward, as he is one of the Caps’ best penalty killers.
Already one of the best offensive players in the history of the Capitals, Backstrom has already built a career worthy of the Hall of Fame (666 points in 678 games played). While he may not get the league-wide recognition he deserves, Backstrom continues to be a driving force for the Caps, and fans couldn’t ask for anything more.
By Michael Fleetwood