A Deeper Look Into The Nicklas Backstrom – Washington Capitals Five Year Extension

Washington enjoyed the Nicklas Backstrom contract as the center was earning just $6.7 million AAV for the last ten seasons. It was known that a big payday was coming.

As a result, the Capitals signed the forward to a five-year, $9.2 million AAV extension. Let’s take a deeper look

What Nicklas Backstrom means to the Washington Capitals

Backstrom’s ice-time is immeasurable as he plays 19 minutes a night and in all situations. There is little question of how much he contributes offensively and defensively. As his role has endured, Washington knows they have a playmaker who can be responsible in his end when called upon.

The pivot currently has 35 points in 39 games this season — including four in his last five games alone. Washington’s 32-year-old center has not aged one bit. If anything, Nicklas Backstrom ages like a fine wine.

Now, the contract is signed and sealed. The first question asked has to be, does Backstrom play the entire deal in Washington? When the extension kicks in, Backstrom will be weeks from turning 33.

Backstrom continues to show an amazing amount of consistency. From ages 26-31, Nicklas Backstrom has scored 70+ points in every single season. That includes 50+ assists in every single year as well.

Next, there is the numerology.

The numerology of Nicklas Backstrom

Fortunately, Backstrom plays in a way that is polarizing to some and even more so to others. Now, his relative metrics are right around the team average (Washington has one of the highest advanced statistics rates in the league). That number is about -0.8% relative to Washington.

Possession metrics previously were okay for Backstrom. The forward maintained a +1.45% relative last year and that was down from the previous years (2.8% career).

Eventually, Backstrom will not have to carry as many of the leadership responsibilities as he has throughout his tenure in Washington. In the meantime, his shot percentage at 12.8% (at even strength) is the highest it has ever been.

Consequently, many point to that his expected goals for that were more than 10% up from the team average relative. Also, his points per 60 were quite respectable at 1.57.

There is always more.

Nicklas Backstrom: Washington Capital for life.

Analysis from @bmcnally14: https://t.co/roP3d5004I pic.twitter.com/0gtwkarmKW

— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) January 15, 2020

Tougher minutes can always be divided up between Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Also, Lars Eller is one of the best middle-six centers in the league. This should quell any concerns about offensive and any defensive acumen issues that may pop up over the next 5+ seasons. The center produces at an elite rate still and most do not expect that to decline precipitously anytime soon.

This move keeps Backstrom in Washington until he almost turns 38. By then, the Swedish forward expects to retire.

The details of the Nicklas Backstrom deal

The Backstrom re-signing shows a five-year contract extension for $9.2 million AAV which was around what most speculated he could receive.

Breakdown of Nicklas Backstrom contract:
Year 1, $6 M signing bonus and $6 M salary
Year 2, $5 M SB and $5 M salary
Year 3, $3 M SB and $3 M salary
Year 4, $5 M SB and $5 M salary
Year 5, $6 M SB and $2 M salary

So $25 M total in signing bonus money
Again, the AAV is $9.2 M

— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) January 14, 2020

The interesting part from the salary breakdown that is shown above is the first two years at $22 million. The kickers in this deal are only slightly frontloaded. Again, considering the amount Washington benefitted from the previous deal, this contract makes some sense.

Here is a PuckPedia snapshot on Nicklas Backstrom. Also, note that the final year of the extension is primarily signing bonus based.

Furthermore, these are all unrestricted free agent years and buys a few of those 35+ years that would have been a problem later on.

Backstrom possesses a full no-movement clause (NMC) for the first three years of the deal. The fourth and fifth years feature a limited NTC where Backstrom submits a 15-team no-trade list.

Some final words on Nicklas Backstrom

Backstrom expects to keep producing at an elite level for the next several seasons before the offensive numbers begin to slide. Then, one may see a few defensive shortcomings. However, Backstrom’s leadership cannot be disputed.

Finally, his surrounding talent should minimize precipitous regression unless they are moved beforehand. Backstrom desired to remain a Capital for life and that wish was granted. As long as the offensive output outpaces some of the inevitable regression from aging, then all is well.