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Nicklas Bäckström Bäckström with the Capitals in 2016Born (1987-11-23) 23 November 1987 (age 30)
Nicklas Bäckström (Swedish: ; born 23 November 1987) is a Swedish professional ice hockey centre and an alternate captain for the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League (NHL). Bäckström was selected fourth overall by the Capitals at the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, and has since gone on to become Washington's all-time franchise leader in assists. Bäckström won his first Stanley Cup with the Capitals in 2018.Contents
After turning 15, Bäckström began his junior career in the 2002–03 season, playing for Brynäs IF of the J20 SuperElit league. After playing parts of three seasons there, in the final of which he had 34 points in 29 games (17 goals and 17 assists), he was called up to play for the club's team in the Elitserien, Sweden's top professional hockey league. In part due to the increased competition brought about by the influx of NHL players into the league (as a result of the 2004–05 NHL lockout), Bäckström was unable to record a point.
In his second season, 2005–06, Bäckström's numbers greatly improved, posting 26 points (10 goals and 16 assists) in 46 games, including a goal in four playoff games. Quickly becoming a first-line centre and a top player on the team, he was named both the Elitserien Rookie of the Year as well as the Swedish Junior Hockey Player of the Year for the first of two times (other notable players to win the latter include Peter Forsberg, Henrik Lundqvist, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin and Niklas Kronwall).
Following his successful campaign, Bäckström was drafted fourth overall by the Washington Capitals at the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, but announced on 10 July 2006, that he would wait a year before leaving Sweden to play in the NHL. His selection made him the fourth-highest drafted Swede at the time, after Mats Sundin (first), Daniel Sedin (second) and Henrik Sedin (third). (Victor Hedman, however, was later picked second in 2009, and Gabriel Landeskog and Adam Larsson were the second- and fourth-overall picks, respectively, in 2011.)
In his third and last season with Brynäs, in 2006–07, Bäckström's development had continued, and he saw improvements in points (12 goals and 28 assists) despite playing in one less game than the previous season. He also improved in post-season play, and was able to record six points (three goals three assists) in seven playoff games.Washington Capitals
On May 21, 2007, Bäckström signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Capitals to begin playing during the 2007–08 season. His development and impressive play led some, such as HockeysFuture.com, which ranks NHL prospects, to consider him the most talented Swedish prospect in recent history. Drawing comparisons to Peter Forsberg, he was noted primarily for his vision, passing and ability to maintain possession of the puck in traffic. For these reasons, he was expected to be a catalyst on the team's power play, and his defensive prowess and puck movement would make him an equally valuable asset when short-handed. On 5 October 2007, he scored his first NHL point, an assist on a goal by fellow Swede Michael Nylander, against the Atlanta Thrashers. While Bäckström was decent early in his first season, still adjusting to the smaller ice rinks of North America, his season rapidly improved once an injury to centre Michael Nylander promoted him to Washington's first line. Playing alongside Alexander Ovechkin, Bäckström set NHL and team records while helping Ovechkin win the Art Ross Trophy and the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy.Bäckström with the Capitals in 2009.
Playing on the Capitals' top line, Bäckström would finish his rookie campaign with 69 points (14 goals and 55 assists), with three goals and 22 assists on the power play. For his play, he was named runner-up to the Chicago Blackhawks' Patrick Kane for the 2007–08 Calder Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the League's top rookie of the season (Kane had 1,087 votes to Bäckström's 872). The Blackhawks' other star rookie, Jonathan Toews, placed third in votes with 647. Despite missing out on the award, Bäckström was named to the All-Rookie Team along with Kane and Toews.
In his second NHL season, 2008–09, Bäckström would go on to lead both the Capitals and all Swedish NHL players with 66 assists, also adding 22 goals, for 88 total points, placing him within the top ten NHL scorers for the year. Bäckström would again prove to be a force in the Stanley Cup playoffs, tallying 15 points in 14 games as Washington eventually fell to the future Stanley Cup champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins, in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Following the 2009 playoffs, Bäckström was awarded the Viking Award as the top Swedish-born player during the 2008–09 season. He became only the second Capital to ever win the award, following Calle Johansson, who won the award in 1991–92.Bäckström played for Dynamo Moscow during the 2012–13 NHL lockout, joining Capitals teammate Alexander Ovechkin.
At the conclusion of the 2009–10 regular season, Bäckström finished fourth in NHL scoring with 101 points, behind Henrik Sedin (112), Sidney Crosby (109) and teammate Alexander Ovechkin (109). Bäckström scored his first career Stanley Cup playoff hat-trick, including the overtime game-winner, against the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the 2010 playoffs, a series Washington ultimately lost in seven games. On 17 May, shortly after the end of the Capitals' season, Bäckström signed a ten-year, $67 million contract extension with the team.
At the conclusion of the 2010–11 season, Bäckström scored 65 points, his lowest single-season point total in the NHL.
On 17 April 2012, Bäckström received a one-game suspension for a cross-check to the head of Boston Bruins forward Rich Peverley.
During the 2012–13 NHL lockout, Bäckström played for Dynamo Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). On 18 October 2012, he signed with the Russian club, with whom his linemate Alexander Ovechkin had also signed for, for the duration of the 2012–13 lockout. Bäckström later returned to finish third in the NHL with 40 assists during the shortened 2012–13 season.
During the 2014–15 season, on 13 December 2014, Bäckström scored his first regular season NHL hat-trick in a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. On 15 March 2015, in a game against the Boston Bruins, he became the Capitals' all-time franchise leader in assists, surpassing both Alexander Ovechkin and Michal Pivoňka after recording two in the game. Bäckström finished the season leading the NHL with 60 assists, including 33 on Ovechkin's League-leading 53 goals; Bäckström also finished the year with 78 points, sixth-best in the NHL. On 27 May, Bäckström had successful arthroscopic hip surgery, with Capitals management expectant of a full recovery prior to the beginning of the 2015–16 season, during which he recorded 20 goals and 50 assists as the Capitals were the best team overall during the regular season, while also played his first All-Star Game.
Backstrom reached and surpassed 600 assists in an October 23, 2018 game against the Vancouver Canucks when he recorded three; his 600th coming on an Ovechkin power play goal. Backstrom became the 87th player in NHL history to reach this mark. A pre-game ceremony was held for Backstrom for reaching 600 career assists on November 7, 2018, before the Caps faced off against chief rivals the Pittsburgh Penguins at home. New coach Todd Reirden said of Backstrom's accomplishment, "Now that I get to watch him every day and deal with him and see how he thinks the game, he’s amazing." Backstrom is the first Capitals player ever to reach that mark.International play Medal record Representing Sweden Men's ice hockey Winter Olympics 2014 Sochi World Championships 2006 Riga 2017 Germany/France World U18 Championships 2005 Plzeň
Bäckström played his first game with Sweden on 6 April 2006, in a game against Norway. He won the World Championship when he represented Sweden in the 2006 World Championship. As of that tournament, he is the youngest Swedish player ever in an Ice Hockey World Championship tournament. Bäckström played the last four games in the World Championship (roster spot held open for Daniel Alfredsson) and was directly appointed to the first line together with idols Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzén.
Bäckström led Sweden in the 2010 Winter Olympics with six points in four games before they were eliminated by Slovakia in the quarterfinals.
In a drug test at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Bäckström's A-sample indicated doping due to an allergy medication containing pseudoephedrine. He was prevented from playing in the final as a result. The B-sample, analyzed after the final, also showed values above the allowed limit. The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) opposed the decision to stop Bäckström from playing in the final. His silver medal was withheld until the International Olympic Committee (IOC) determined whether or not to award it to him. On 14 March 2014, the IOC Disciplinary Commission decided that Bäckström would be awarded the silver medal. The Commission confirmed the provisional suspension that rendered Bäckström ineligible for the final. However, in November 2014, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) appealed the IOC decision to award Bäckström his silver medal. This appeal was resolved in January 2015 when Bäckström, the IOC, WADA and the IIHF agreed to a settlement in which he accepted a reprimand but was cleared of attempting to enhance his performance.Personal life
Bäckström's father Anders is a Swedish hockey player who played his career for Brynäs IF, totaling ten seasons for the club. Nicklas' mother Catrin Bäckström (born in Finland) played handball in the Swedish and Finnish Elite League in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Nicklas' older brother Kristoffer is a retired professional hockey player, who played the second tier of the Swedish league system with Hammarby IF, and in a German league. Bäckström and his girlfriend, Liza Berg, have two children, a daughter and a son.Career statistics Regular season and playoffs Regular season Playoffs Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM 2002–03 Brynäs IF J20 12 1 3 4 2 2 0 0 0 2 2003–04 Brynäs IF J20 21 4 6 10 4 5 0 1 1 4 2004–05 Brynäs IF J20 29 17 17 34 24 — — — — — 2004–05 Brynäs IF SEL 19 0 0 0 2 — — — — — 2005–06 Brynäs IF SEL 46 10 16 26 30 4 1 0 1 2 2005–06 Brynäs IF J20 — — — — — 1 0 0 0 2 2006–07 Brynäs IF SEL 45 12 28 40 46 7 3 3 6 6 2007–08 Washington Capitals NHL 82 14 55 69 24 7 4 2 6 2 2008–09 Washington Capitals NHL 82 22 66 88 46 14 3 12 15 8 2009–10 Washington Capitals NHL 82 33 68 101 50 7 5 4 9 4 2010–11 Washington Capitals NHL 77 18 47 65 40 9 0 2 2 4 2011–12 Washington Capitals NHL 42 14 30 44 24 13 2 6 8 18 2012–13 Dynamo Moscow KHL 19 10 15 25 10 — — — — — 2012–13 Washington Capitals NHL 48 8 40 48 20 7 1 2 3 0 2013–14 Washington Capitals NHL 82 18 61 79 54 — — — — — 2014–15 Washington Capitals NHL 82 18 60 78 40 14 3 5 8 2 2015–16 Washington Capitals NHL 75 20 50 70 36 12 2 9 11 8 2016–17 Washington Capitals NHL 82 23 63 86 38 13 6 7 13 2 2017–18 Washington Capitals NHL 81 21 50 71 46 20 5 18 23 6 NHL totals 815 209 590 799 418 116 31 67 98 54 SHL totals 110 22 44 66 78 11 4 3 7 8 International Year Team Event Result GP G A Pts PIM 2005 Sweden WJC U18 7 2 3 5 4 2006 Sweden WJC 5th 6 4 3 7 2 2006 Sweden WC 4 0 0 0 0 2007 Sweden WJC 4th 7 0 7 7 20 2007 Sweden WC 4th 9 1 5 6 4 2008 Sweden WC 4th 9 3 4 7 4 2010 Sweden Oly 5th 4 1 5 6 0 2012 Sweden WC 6th 2 0 1 1 0 2014 Sweden Oly 5 0 4 4 0 2017 Sweden WC 5 3 4 7 8 Junior totals 20 6 13 19 26 Senior totals 38 8 23 31 16 Awards and honors Award Year SHL Rookie of the Year 2006 Junior Hockey Player of the Year 2006, 2007 NHL All-Rookie Team 2008 YoungStars Game 2008 Viking Award 2009, 2015 All-Star Game 2016 Stanley Cup (Washington Capitals) 2018  Records