How Much Will Nicklas Backstrom Cost The Capitals?

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One of the biggest boxes on Washington Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan‘s to-do list this offseason is to re-sign center Nicklas Backstrom to a contract extension. The 31-year old can sign an extension at any time after 12 PM ET on July 1. If he does not sign an extension, he can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2020. While goaltender Braden Holtby is also up to sign a contract extension and the team would love to keep him, MacLellan and the Capitals will likely want to lock Backstrom up first. The Capitals have their future in the net with the AHL’s Hershey Bears in Ilya Samsonov, who posted a save percentage no lower than .925 in each of his final three seasons in the KHL. While his play declined in Hershey, he had to make an adjustment from playing in the European rink to the North American rink and got better as the year went on. He finished the 2018-19 season with a save percentage of .898 and a goals-against average of 2.70 in 37 games. Because Samsonov will be ready in 1-2 seasons, the Capitals could choose to move on from Holtby if his price is too steep.

While the Capitals have an in-house replacement for Holtby, they do not have a No. 1 NHL center in their prospect pipeline that can take over for Backstrom in the next few seasons. The Capitals were searching for a reliable No. 2 center for years before Evgeny Kuznetsov arrived late in the 2013-14 season. They traded for Mike Ribeiro from the Dallas Stars at the 2012 NHL Draft and signed Mikhail Grabovski as an unrestricted free agent the next offseason. While each of them were productive with the Capitals, both left the team after just one year. They finally found a strong 1-2 punch up the middle in Backstrom and Kuznetsov and now have one of the deepest center depth in the entire league. Since the top-six center position is so vital in today’s NHL and the Capitals don’t have anyone to fill that role after 2019-20, Backstrom’s cost could go up when contract negotiations with the Capitals start.

Backstrom has been one of the most consistent players on the Capitals for a long time and gets trusted to play against other team’s top-lines. He has hit the 70-point plateau seven times in his career and the 50-assist mark five. In two of the years that he didn’t, he averaged at least a point per game. Backstrom was one of, if not, the most productive Capital in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs as he led the team with five goals and came one point within captain Alex Ovechkin for the team lead.

After being on a team-friendly 10-year, $67 million contract ($6.7 million AAV), Backstrom will likely demand a big raise. Though he could take a hometown discount to play for the team that drafted him fourth overall in 2006, he will still cost the Capitals a lot of money to keep.

Because he placed second on the team in scoring ahead of Kuznetsov, whose cap hit is $7.8 million, and Carlson, who gets an $8 million paycheck annually, Backstrom will likely demand to have a cap hit around $8.5-9 million for the four to five seasons. That could go up a little bit higher because of the Capitals’ lack of center depth in their prospect group and the fact that he carried the team with Ovechkin during the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

While Backstrom told the media that he wants to remain in Washington at breakdown day in April, that does not mean that keeping him will come cheap for the Capitals. Locking Backstrom up as soon as possible is a must do for MacLellan and the team because the Capitals do not have an internal replacement for him and he has been one of the most productive players throughout his tenure here, both offensively and defensively. While the cost to keep Backstrom will be steep, he will certainly be worth it to the Capitals organization.

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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7 Responses to How Much Will Nicklas Backstrom Cost The Capitals?

  1. Day One Caps Fan says:

    Chalk up one Nick Backstrom fan! Aside from being the Washington Capitals’ all-time best Center Iceman in terms of points, production and playoff success, Backstrom also brings an elusive quality: Durability.

    Backstrom has had a few injuries and that hip surgery, but many a Caps Center has ground himself into hamburger after just a few seasons of NHL wear and team. Backstrom is consistently “there” and doesn’t take games off for a hangnail or the sniffles

    Resign Backstrom generously.

    • Diane Doyle says:

      Overall, Nicky has been a durable player. The main things he’s had were that concussion he got from Rene Bourque and the hip surgery. Except for an occasion game missed due to allergies/illness, he’s been extremely durable. That’s one of this strongest suits.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Sign both…. keep nick… trade Holt

  4. Anonymous says:

    What in Backys entire tenure as a Washington Capital makes any of you paranoid types think he is going to be greedy or ask for the moon? 1, if you did any paying attention to Backy his entire he enjoys/doesnt mind at all that he kind of plays in the shadows of OV, that he can just fly under the radar etc. Thats not to say you can lowball him but Backy comes across as a guy who understands his Legacy in Hockey& its connection to the Caps,Ov etc. So if you said 7 yrs for 7mil per or something he’d probably take. But hes not going to try and destroy the caps salary cap& get paid more then Carlson,Ov etc. Thats something you do when your 21& your trying to build your legend. Not when your career is made& legacy is close to being set, it can only be bolstered by more Cups& Stats with 1 franchise.

    Same for Holtby you get him done through age 35-36 HOF Goalies prime years. For about 7mil, now if Holtby does get greedy and try to get 9-10mil bc Bob ok then we cant break our Cap. But if he cares about Legacy&being a likely HOF Goalie if he stayed with us&won 3-4 more divisions, 7-8 30W seasons and maybe another Cup…for 7mil ish per year then pay up

  5. Ee says:

    I find it hard to believe that Nicky would make the organization pay him through the nose if the salary cap becomes the biggest obstacle to a new deal. He’s constantly described as unselfish and committed to the team, and after winning the Cup what could an already-a-millionaire player want other than legacy? That’s what Washington can offer him that no other team can – if he plays his entire career in the Caps and retires in D.C there’s no fucking future where his jersey isn’t hoisted to the rafters right alongside number 8. Money can’t buy legacy.

    And just on a personal note; if it starts to look like Nicky might leave, I will personally commit crimes to make sure he stays, because I think my heart might just about break if I ever have to see Nicky and Ovi play against each other in the NHL.

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