|Born||November 23, 1987 |
|Height||6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)|
|Weight||210 lb (95 kg; 15 st 0 lb)|
HC Dynamo Moscow (KHL)
|NHL Draft||4th overall, 2006|
Nicklas Backstrom (born Lars Nicklas Backstrom on November 23, 1987) is a Swedish professional ice hockey centre and an alternate captain for the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League (NHL).
Playing Career[edit | edit source]
Brynas IF[edit | edit source]
Nicklas began his junior career when he was 15 years old 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, 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), Nicklas was unable to record a point.
In Nicklas's second season (2005-06) his numbers were greatly improved, recording 26 points (10 goals, 16 assists) in 46 games, including a goal in four playoff games.
Quickly becoming a first-line center and top player with his team, Nicklas 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, Nicklas was drafted fourth overall by the Washington Capitals in 2006, but announced on July 10, 2006 he would wait a year before leaving Sweden to play in the NHL on.
This made him the fourth-highest drafted Swede after Mats Sundin (first), Daniel Sedin (second) and Henrik Sedin (third). (Although Victor Hedman was later picked second in 2009, Gabriel Landeskog and Adam Larsson were the second and fourth picks respectively in 2011.)
In Nicklas's third and last season with Brynäs IF, his development had continued, and he saw improvements in points (12 goals, 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 (3 goals, 3 assists) in seven games.
Washington Capitals[edit | edit source]
On May 21, 2007, Nicklas signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Capitals to begin playing during the 2007–08 NHL season.
His development and impressive play led some (such as HockeysFuture.com who 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, Nicklas was expected to be a catalyst on the power play and his defensive prowess & puck movement would make him an equally valuable asset when short-handed.
On October 5, 2007, Nicklas scored his first NHL point, an assist on a goal by fellow Swede Michael Nylander against the Atlanta Thrashers.
While Nicklas 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 Nylander promoted him to the first line.
Playing alongside Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas set NHL and team records while helping Ovechkin win the Art Ross Trophy and the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy.
These two would soon establish themselves among the premier linemates and duos in the league, with the formidability of a top flight scorer and playmaker proving to be hard to defend against.
With better talent surrounding him, Nicklas would go on to finish his rookie campaign with 69 points (14 goals, 55 assists) with 3 goals and 22 assists on the power play. He was named the runner-up to Chicago's Patrick Kane for the 2007-08 Calder Trophy (Kane had 1,087 votes to Bäckström's 872).
The Blackhawks' other superstar rookie Jonathan Toews placed third in votes with 647, however, Nicklas was named to the All-Rookie Team along with Kane and Toews.
In Nicklas's second NHL season, he would go on to lead both the Capitals and Swedish NHL players with 66 assists, and added 22 goals for 88 points, placing him within the top ten NHL scorers in the 2008–09 regular season.
He would again prove to be a force in the playoffs, tallying 15 points in 14 games.
Following the 2008–09 NHL playoffs, Nicklas was awarded the Viking Award for being the best Swedish-born player in the 2008–09 NHL season. He is only the second Capital to win this award, following behind Calle Johansson.
Nicklas scored his first career playoff hat trick, including the overtime game winner against the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs, a round that they lost in seven games.
On May 17, 2010, Nicklas signed a ten-year, $67 million contract extension with the Washington Capitals.
At the conclusion of the 2010–11 NHL season, he scored 65 points, which is the least for him for a single season.
On April 17, 2012, Nicklas received a one-game suspension for a cross-check to the head of Bruins forward Rich Peverley.
On October 18, 2012, Nicklas signed with the KHL's Dynamo Moscow, with whom Capitals linemate Alex Ovechkin had signed for the duration of the 2012–13 NHL lockout.
Nicklas finished 3rd in the NHL with 40 assists during the 2012–13 NHL season.
Career Statistics[edit | edit source]
International Statistics[edit | edit source]
|2005||Sweden Jr.||WJC U18||7||2||3||5||4|
|Junior int'l totals||38||10||19||29||44|
|Senior int'l totals||41||8||17||25||126|
Awards & Achievements[edit | edit source]
- Junior Hockey Player of the Year (2006)
- Elitserien Rookie of the Year (2006)
- NHL Rookie of the Month: December 2007
- NHL No. 1 Star of the Week: weeks ending November 16, 2008; and December 7, 2009.
- NHL All-Rookie Team (2007–08)
- Finalist, 2007–08 Calder Memorial Trophy
- Viking Award (2009)
Records[edit | edit source]
- Youngest Swedish player ever in World Championship (18 years and 6 months old).
- First NHL rookie to record four assists in two consecutive games.
- Most assists in a season by a rookie, Washington Capitals team record (56 assists) in the 2007–08 NHL season.
International Play[edit | edit source]
|Competitor for Sweden|
|Men's ice hockey|
|World U18 Championships|
On April 6, 2006, Nicklas played his first game with the Swedish national team in a game against Norway.
He won the World Championship when he represented Sweden in the 2006 World Championship.
As of that tournament, Nicklas is the youngest Swedish player ever in an Ice Hockey World Championship tournament.
On December 27, 2009, it was announced that he would play for Team Sweden in the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Nicklas led Team Sweden in the 2010 Olympics with six points in four games before they were eliminated by Slovakia in the quarterfinals.
Nicklas played for Sweden in the:
- 2006 World Junior Championships
- 2006 World Championships (gold medal)
- 2007 World Junior Championships
- 2007 World Championships
- 2008 World Championships
- 2010 Winter Olympics
- I2012 World Championships
Personal Life[edit | edit source]
Nicklas' father Anders Backstrom is a Swedish hockey player who played his career for Brynäs IF, totaling ten seasons for the club.
His mother Catrin Backstrom (born in Finland) played handball in the Swedish and Finnish Elite League in the late '70s and early '80s.
His 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.