Cap­i­tals sign Nick­las Back­strom to $46M, 5-year ex­ten­sion

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - SPORTS - AP Hockey Writer

By Stephen Whyno

WASH­ING­TON (AP) >> Nick­las Back­strom isn’t leav­ing the team he lifted the Stan­ley Cup with and is get­ting paid hand­somely to stick around for the long haul.

The Wash­ing­ton Cap­i­tals on Tues­day signed Back­strom to a $46 mil­lion, fiveyear con­tract ex­ten­sion that locks him up through the 2024-25 sea­son. The play­mak­ing Swedish cen­ter will count $9.2 mil­lion against the salary cap when this con­tract kicks in next sea­son, a sig­nif­i­cant raise from his cur­rent team-friendly deal.

There was lit­tle doubt Back­strom and the Cap­i­tals would get a deal done be­fore the 32-year-old could be­come an un­re­stricted free agent on July 1. Along with cap­tain Alex Ovechkin, Back­strom has been a corner­stone of the fran­chise for more than a decade. He was a key part of the 2018 Cup run and his No. 19 jersey will some­day hang in the rafters.

“I wasn’t ex­pect­ing a whole lot when I first got drafted,” Back­strom said. “Ever since, it’s been a jour­ney.”

Back­strom and Ovechkin have played more than 900 games to­gether since Back­strom’s NHL de­but in 2007 and be­came one of hockey’s most dy­namic duos dur­ing this era.

“It’s nice to be with a guy on the same team so many years,” Ovechkin said. “You can ask any­body in this locker room or pre­vi­ous guys who played, first of all he’s tremen­dous per­son and an un­be­liev­able cen­ter. To be around him and see how he’s grown up, how he’s ma­tured, it’s great.”

Back­strom is the Cap­i­tals’ fran­chise leader in as­sists and has put up 908 points in 934 reg­u­lar-sea­son games. He recorded 23 points in 20 play­off games dur­ing Wash­ing­ton’s Cup run and has been a part of 11 play­off ap­pear­ances in 12 years.

This sea­son, Back­strom has nine goals and 26 as­sists for 35 points. He’s the only ac­tive player to have 50-plus as­sists in each of the past six sea­sons.

Much like Ovechkin did with his $124 mil­lion, 13year con­tract signed in 2008 — with help from his mother — Back­strom ne­go­ti­ated this deal him­self. He’ll be 37 when it’s over, leav­ing open the pos­si­bil­ity of an­other con­tract for a player who seems like he’ll fin­ish his ca­reer with the Cap­i­tals.

Ovechkin al­most cer­tainly will play his en­tire NHL ca­reer with Wash­ing­ton, and his con­tract sta­tus is one of two sit­u­a­tions worth watch­ing now that Back­strom is signed. The Rus­sian su­per­star who’s on the verge of reach­ing 700 goals is signed through next sea­son, so he and the Cap­i­tals could sign an ex­ten­sion as early as this sum­mer.

“Ob­vi­ously we’d like Ovi to fin­ish his ca­reer here, and we’re go­ing to do what we can to keep him,” gen­eral man­ager Brian MacLel­lan said re­cently.

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