There are going to be people like myself who focus more on what Alex Ovechkin and Mike Ribeiro did this season for the Washington Capitals in regards to turning the season around. I think that more credit needs to be given to Nicklas Backstrom. He scored 48 points in 48 games, while having 40 assists in the process. The team did fall miserably in the playoffs but you can’t single out one player for that collapse.
Backstrom had three points during their seven-game series loss. The key was during the final two months of the regular season, though, as Backstrom posted 33 of his 40 points; it really helped the team go on the long winning streak that they had in April, and it propelled the team straight to a division title. He has a long contract ahead of him and will likely be in Washington for the next decade. He is only 25 years old, and while I think there could be some roster changes if the team doesn’t make a run next season, Backstrom will stay.
It could be more of a player like Ovechkin who gets traded, and that would leave Backstrom as the leader of the Capitals. I think he could handle that role with no issues at all. Right now, though, it is going to be up to Backstrom to find a way to match his production from the last five years and continue averaging a point a game. He is the major lynchpin to whether or not Washington finally breaks through and gets the Stanley Cup.