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2015-16 Rink Wrap: Nicklas Backstrom

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From Alzner to Winnik, we're taking a look at and grading the 2015-16 season for every player who laced 'em up for the Caps for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2016-17. Next up, Nicklas Backstrom.

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Japers' Rink Player Card (click for a hi-res version, and a glossary of terms used in this post can be found here; data via NHL.comwar-on-ice.comGeneral Fanager and Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com):

Backstrom Card

Backstrom's Season, Game-by-Game (via HockeyViz, explained here):

Backstrom game-by-game

Backstrom's HERO Chart (via Own The Puck):

Backstrom HERO

Backstrom and His Linemates:

Backstrom linemates

Backstrom's 5v5 Teammates and Competition (via HockeyViz, explained here):

Backstrom QoCT

Backstrom's 5v5 Usage:

Backstrom usage

Backstrom's With-or-Without You (via HockeyViz, explained here):

Backstrom WOWY

Backstrom's Rolling Shot-Attempt (Corsi) -For Percentage:

Backstrom Rolling CF%

Backstrom's Nine Seasons (via Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com):

Backstrom HA

Key Stat: Backstrom scored 17 goals at even strength in 2015-16, which trailed only Justin Williams and Alex Ovechkin for the most on the team and was the third-highest total of his career.

Interesting Stat: Scored 11 points in 12 playoff games, his highest points-per-game rate since the 2009-10 postseason when he put up nine points in seven games.

The Good: While his point production dipped slightly from where it has been in the past, it's hard to imagine the team - or his linemates - being quite as successful as they were in 2015-16 without Backstrom's contributions. With his help, Alex Ovechkin hit the 50-goal mark for the seventh time and T.J. Oshie scored a career-high 26 goals. As the brains behind the power play, he kept the team among the League's top-five with the extra man all season (and led the way with 30 power-play points, tied with Jamie Benn and Brent Burns for the second-highest total in the League).

He also scored 20 goals for the first time since 2009-10, 17 of which were at even strength, and only once went more than two games without registering a point (a pattern that even continued into the playoffs). Along the way he was finally rewarded with his first (!) trip to the All-Star Game in January, a long-overdue honor that was likely a product of some vocal stumping by his biggest fan, Barry Trotz.

Postseason production has been an area of concern for Backstrom over the years, especially past the first round, but he stepped it up a bit this year and put together a very respectable 11 points over the two series (despite a couple of dips and droughts along the way). That trailed only Ovechkin and John Carlson (12 each) among all Caps, and included the series-clinching goal against the Flyers in Game 6. Much-needed production aside, he was terrific when going head to head with both Pennsylvania-team captains, playing a huge role in the fact that Sidney Crosby and Claude Giroux combined for a grand total of three points (all assists) when facing Backstrom (marking the third series in the last two seasons in which Backstrom has gotten the better of one of the Metro Division's top pivots, after he bested John Tavares last spring).

The Bad: With more offensive balance through the top half of the lineup, Backstrom's individual totals took a hit; he barely hit 50 assists and 70 points. It seems crazy to say either of those are "bad", of course - they're not. But Backstrom has consistently put up higher totals in each area over the course of his career, and both his assists- and points-per-60 at even strength dipped from last season, as did his individual shot production. In fact, Backstrom managed just 129 shots on goal (all situations) and 222 attempts, both career-lows in any season in which he's played at least 70 games.

As for those aforementioned dips and droughts in the playoffs... they were brief, but noticeable, as he all but disappeared at the start of the Penguins series (although he did bounce back nicely when moved to the "Tre Kronor" line alongside Marcus Johansson and Andre Burakovsky). Hard to pin the whole disappointing end to the playoff run on him, though.

The Video:

The Vote: Rate Backstrom below on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season - if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.

The Discussion: Would you prefer to see Backstrom primarily in his usual spot alongside Ovechkin next season, or do you think Trotz should split them up more often? Is his slight dip in production over the last few years an area of concern? What would it take for you to give him a "10" next year?