Nicklas Backstrom Bio
Forward Nicklas Backstrom was born in Valbo, Sweden to a mother who played professional handball and a father who played pro hockey. Naturally, the youngster gravitated to sports and was already playing organized hockey at four years old. He skated for Brynas IF as a junior in 2002/03 and three seasons later was recruited by Brynas IF’s senior squad in the nation’s highest professional league.
He notched 10 goals and 26 points in 2005/06 and was then selected by the Washington Capitals with the fourth overall pick in the NHL’s 2006 draft. The two-time winner of Sweden’s Junior hockey Player of the Year award was also named the Rookie of the Year for the senior pro team shortly before the draft. Backstrom decided to remain in his homeland for one more year even though at the time he was the fourth-highest Swedish-born player to be drafted.
With 12 goals and 40 points in his last season at Brynas and six playoff points in seven games he was ready to make the trek over the Ocean and agreed to an entry-level contract in 2007. He made his NHL debut a few months later and took some time getting used to North America’s smaller ice surfaces. However, he soon found himself on the team’s top line centering Alexander Ovechkin, who would go on to lead the league in goals and assists that season.
Backstrom posted 14 goals and 69 points as a rookie with 25 of them coming on the power-play. He was a finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy, but placed second in voting to Patrick Kane. He was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team though. Backstrom’s sophomore season saw him lead his team and all Swedish-born NHL’ers with 66 assists to go along with 22 goals. The 88 points also placed him in the top-10 for league scoring in 2008/09. He then produced 15 points in 14 playoff outings and was named the best Swedish-born NHL player in his homeland.
Backstrom’s 101 points in 2009/10 ranked him fourth in NHL scoring with 33 goals and 68 assists and he added five goals and nine points in seven playoff contests. At the conclusion of the season Backstrom inked a 10-year deal worth $67 million. He slumped the very next season with 18 goals and 65 points in 77 contests and played just 42 games the next year with 14 goals and 44 points. The duo of Backstrom and Ovechkin remained together in 2012/13 during the NHL lockout as they both suited up for Dynamo Moscow of the KHL in Russia. The NHL played a shortened schedule with Backstrom posting eight goals and 40 assists in 48 games.
Backstrom managed to play in all but eight games over the next five campaigns and registered seasons of 79, 78, 70, 86 and 71 points. He also played in 59 playoff games during that span and contributed 16 goals and 39 assists for 55 points. This included five goals and 18 assists in 2017/18 when the Capitals won the Stanley Cup. Backstrom entered 2018/19 with 209 goals, 590 assists and 799 points in 815 regular-season games and is Washington’s all-time leader in assists second in points. He had also accumulated 31 goals and 98 points in 116 playoff encounters. The 600-assist milestone was then reached by Backstrom early in 2018/19.
Over the years Backstrom has represented Sweden numerous times on the international scene. He held the record for being the youngest Swedish player ever at the World Championships when he suited up in 2006 and won a gold medal. He played in the World Junior Championships the same year and competed in the 2010 and 2014 Olympics, winning a silver medal in 2014. He also captured a gold at the 2017 World championships.
Backstrom has tremendous patience with the puck and is an excellent passer. He’s valuable on both special teams and is responsible defensively. He’s not as well known as many of his fellow stars, but is one of the finest players to come out of Sweden and one of the best ever to skate with the Capitals.