Nicklas Backstrom: Best Contract in the NHL?

Locking up your best players is a priority for every National Hockey League General Manager. The Chicago Blackhawks recently extended forwards Jonathon Toews and Patrick Kane to mega contracts this past summer, with both star players collecting eight year, 84 million dollar deals.

The Washington Capitals have two big name stars in Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom who will be with the team for years to come. Ovechkin has the most points in the NHL since the 2007-08, arguably the best goal scorer in hockey at this very moment. Ovechkin is talked about at an insane amount, but Backstrom is in the conversation as a top ten center in the NHL. He’S inked to arguably one of the best contracts in the NHL, a ten year, 67 million dollar pact that will keep the Swedish forward in the nation’s capital through the 2019-20 campaign.

Since the 2007-08 season, Backstrom is 10th in the NHL with 494 points in 495 games, averaging nearly a point per contest. Fellow Swedes Henrik Sedin (5th, 540 points) and Daniel Sedin (9th, 499) rank above Washington’s top center in points since that season. Backstrom is also a key power play contributor, netting 44 goals and 163 assists on the man advantage, all with the Capitals, the club that drafted him fourth overall in the 2006 NHL entry draft.

His ten year contract extension was signed after the Capitals were eliminated in the 2010 playoffs, a first round exit. The deal was one with large magnitude as Backstrom was just a ripe 22 year old player, but had amassed 246 consecutive games played and became the fourth player in Capitals history to record at least 100 points in a season in just his third professional season.

“We went back and forth. Different trends were discussed. But players want different things sometimes. Nicky was ready to do 10 years, he was interested in doing 10 years. We discussed it and felt that that would work for us if we could get the right number.” –Former Capitals GM George McPhee

The contract is an absolute steal today. With inflation and the rise of the salary cap in a growing league, Backstrom will have the 21st highest cap hit at 6.7 million for NHL forwards during the 2014-15 season. His deal reflects current valuable contracts held by Tyler Seguin (5.75 million, 2013-19), Patrick Kane (6.3 million, 2010-15), and Jonathon Toews (6.3 million, 2010-15) that don’t rank in the top ten for cap hit.

George McPhee should be credited with building the foundation of the Capitals. From his selections of deep goaltending talent in the draft, the electric duo of Ovechkin and Backstrom and a home grown blue line, McPhee has given first-year Capitals GM Brian MacLellan multiple pieces to build a championship contender with.

Below are the cap hits of the nine forwards that rank ahead of him in points since the 2007-08 season, with their respective contracts. The table includes two veteran players nearing the end of their careers in Jarome Iginla (Colorado Avalanche) and Martin St. Louis (New York Rangers).

Player Points Since 2007-08 2014-15 Cap Hit (Rank for Forwards) Term (Years)
Alex Ovechkin 616 9,538,462 (1st) 13
Martin St. Louis 559 $5,625,000 (45th) 4
Evgeni Malkin 547 $9,500,000 (2nd) 8
Sidney Crosby 547 $8,700,000 (3rd) 12
Henrik Sedin 540 $7,000,000 (T-15th) 4
Joe Thornton 534 $6,750,000 (20th) 3
Ryan Getzlaf 511 $8,250,000 (7th) 8
Jarome Iginla 503 $5,333,333 (Below Top 50) 3
Daniel Sedin 499 $7,000,000 (T-15th) 4
Nicklas Backstrom 494 $6,700,000 (21st) 10

Current star players like Claude Giroux, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin all have fair deals and are worth their price. Backstrom’s deal is a bargain and the Capitals are reaping the benefits of his team friendly contract. He’ll work with newly hired Capitals head coach and former longtime Nashville Predators bench boss Barry Trotz to maximize his capabilities in hopes of bringing an awaited Stanley Cup Championship to Washington, D.C.

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