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2016-17 Rink Wrap: Nicklas Backstrom

From Alzner to Winnik, we're taking a look at and grading the 2016-17 season for every player who laced 'em up for the Caps for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2017-18. Next up, Nicklas Backstrom.

Minnesota Wild v Washington Capitals Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Japers' Rink Player Card (click for a hi-res version; data via, and Cap Friendly):

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

Backstrom and His Linemates (chart by @muneebalamcu):

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

Backstrom's 5v5 Usage (chart by @muneebalamcu):

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

Backstrom WOWY

Backstrom's Rolling Shot-Attempt (Corsi) -For Percentage (chart by @muneebalamcu):

Backstrom's Last Ten Seasons (via

Backstrom’s Goals Against Replacement (GAR) Components (chart by @ChartingHockey, data by @DTMAboutHeart, explained here, Tableau here):

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

Key Stat: Backstrom accumulated 86 points this season, the third-highest total of his career and his best point production since his 101-point campaign back in 2009-10.

Interesting Stat: Backstrom’s assist on January 7 against the Senators was the 500th of his career, the first player in franchise history to do so - and in his 691st game, the second-fastest Swedish player to hit that mark (trailing only Peter Forsberg, who did so in 551 games).

The Good: He’s been one of the Caps’ most consistent players pretty much every year, but Backstrom had a particularly strong 2016-17 season for himself, putting up 23 goals (second-most in his career) and 86 points. That was good enough to lead the Caps in scoring by a healthy margin, the first time he’s ever finished the season as the team’s scoring leader; it also put him in fourth overall in the League (with a second-best 63 assists).

This was a season of milestones for the Caps’ top center, as Backstrom recorded his 500th career assist - the first player from his 2006 draft class to hit that mark - and a month later followed that achievement up with his 700th career point, making him the fourth Capital to ever do so and the eighth-fastest among active NHLers to reach 700 points. And for added awesomeness, this season marked Backstrom’s seventh 50-assist campaign, tying him for the most since his rookie season and making him the first player to do so at least seven times in his first 10 seasons since Joe Thornton.

Backstrom’s production remained steady in all circumstances, as he provided offense at five on five while also once again being the straw that stirs the drink on the power play - leading the team in assists, points, assists per 60 and points per 60 in both categories.

A strong regular season is nothing new for Backstrom, but in the past he’s had his occasional struggles maintaining his level of play in the playoffs. Not so much this spring, though, as he set a new career-high in goals with six and finished with a team-leading 13 points, his second-highest career playoff point total (and best postseason output since 2009).

The Bad: It’s hard to look at this season for Backstrom and think of anything negative about it... except for the ending. With another early playoff exit in the books, and a Game 7 in which no one - including Backstrom - was able to carry the team to victory, it marks another wasted season for one of the most underrated players in the League. And while this was one of his best seasons overall, it no doubt goes down as a huge disappointment for a guy who has shown increasing frustration in the team’s inability to get over the hump.

So what’s “the bad” for Backstrom? The fact that this is the only trophy he’s hoisting this spring:

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: Do you think Backstrom should continue to center Alex Ovechkin next season or is he better suited alongside different wingers? What would it take for you to give him a "10" next year?

Other Backstrom Season Reviews: RMNB, Peerless, Stars and Sticks


How do you rate Nicklas Backstrom's 2016-17 season?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    (33 votes)
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    (111 votes)
  • 27%
    (72 votes)
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  • 1%
    (3 votes)
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    (1 vote)
259 votes total Vote Now