Nicklas Backstrom has been a point per game player over the course of his five-year career, which even while playing next to an All-Star such as Alex Ovechkin is no easy task. In 2009-2010 ,Backstrom set career highs in goals (33), assists (68) and points (101) for the offensive powerhouse Washington Capitals. 2011-2012 would see Backstrom’s season shortened due to a concussion–he missed 40 games–but he would return towards the end of the season to help Washington, struggling to secure a playoff spot, get the seventh seed in the east.
In 2011-2012 despite only playing in 42 games, Backstrom finished with 44 points, but his return helped spark the team. Despite being a +90 on his career, most of which is because Washington is a high-scoring team, Backstrom finished this past season with a -4, which overall still isn’t bad. His offensive upside gives Washington a very dangerous top line along with Ovechkin and the recent addition of Mike Ribiero gives the Capitals a very good one-two punch at center.
Backstrom could have been higher on this list, but the offense dropping off these past two seasons in Washington means his number have dropped too. The concussion he suffered this past season also leaves a question mark next to his name as to whether he’ll return to previous form, affect him in the long run or leave him open to future injuries. Concussions are a serious issue in the league currently: consider the issues Sidney Crosby has faced as well as the two concussions David Booth has had and how he seems to not have returned to his previous form.
However, if the previous injury Backstrom has had no history of until now isn’t a factor, my guess is that he could easily return to a 90-point producer. Even with the rest of his team’s numbers dropping, Backstrom was looking to have a very good season compared to the year previously. If he can once again find that groove, Washinhton and Ovechkin could both see their offensive troubles become a thing of the past.
Backstrom records a hat trick against the Montreal Canadiens in the 2010 NHL playoffs.
Highlights from the 2011-2012 season.
Backstrom has all of the talents needed to be a top player in the NHL and he’s already proved in his young career that teams need to keep an eye on him. In the coming seasons, Backstrom could easily take over as a top five center across the league next to names like Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Henrik Sedin and Claude Giroux.
The Rant Sports Top 100 NHL Players series will examine the top 100 players all across the league. Look for more from the top 100 soon.