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Nicklas Backstrom Profile

by Staff Writer / Washington Capitals
Nicklas Backstrom – Center

Born: Nov. 23, 1987, Gavle, Sweden
Height: 6-foot-0
Weight: 183
Shoots: Left

Rankings:
CSB: #1 among European skaters
International Scouting Services: #4
McKeen’s: #2
Red Line Report: #5
THN: #5
TSN: #5

Profile:
Over the years, the Washington Capitals have had great Swedish players such as Bengt Gustafsson and Calle Johansson. After choosing 18-year-old Swedish center Nicklas Backstrom with the fourth overall pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft on Saturday, the Caps hope he will become the next in that line of stellar Swedes.

At the IIHF World Championships in Riga, Latvia last month, Backstrom played under Gustafsson, the head coach of gold medal-winning Team Sweden. In doing so he became the youngest player ever to play for Team Sweden at the Worlds.

Backstrom not only played with and among men in the Swedish Elite League as an 18-year-old in 2005-06, he led his Brynas team in scoring and was the league’s rookie of the year. A competitive player with great hands and puck skills, Backstrom was also coveted for his high level of hockey sense. Many scouts see him as the most NHL-ready of all the players selected in the 2006 draft.

The Capitals believe Backstrom is ready to play in the NHL now, but it is possible he will spend one more season with Brynas before beginning his North American pro career. Backstrom figures to be Washington’s first-line center and a power play fixture.

What Others Are Saying
Central Scouting Bureau:
A mobile good skater with acceleration, speed and balance ... incredible hockey sense and hands ... a solid all-around player with terrific overall skill level ... good offensive talent, excellent playmaker and passer ... a natural scorer with a quick release and a good selection of shots ... smooth hands ... effective at face-offs ... a creative offensive talent with excellent work ethic ... finesse player who can play tough, can take and give a hit ... has a very good attitude, comes out to play on every shift ... in excellent shpae but does need more strength ... could improve on first-step quickness ... played both junior and senior hockey with Brynas in 2004-05 ... named best forward on Brynas in the Swedish league in 2005-06 ... named best forward on Swedish Under-20 at World Junior Championships ... named rookie of the year in the Swedish league in 2005-06.

Hockey's Future

International Scouting Service:
Report Card
Size/Strength – B
Skating – B+
Shot/Scoring – B+
Puckhandling – A
Hockey Sense – A
Leadership – A+
Poise – A-
Defense – B+

Skill:
Plays with intensity at all times. A scoring threat whenever he is on the ice. Competes hard. Outstanding vision.

Scouting Report:
His lofty ranking here at ISS may surprise some experts, however, after watching his development over the past few years we feel he has the potential to be a star. Is a sound two-way player with excellent playmaking instincts. He boasts tremendous heart and leadership qualities. He is compared to Peter Forsberg when it comes to his passing game. He has a uniquely high hockey IQ. He has great hands and is great in 1-on-1 situations. His play this season has earned him the admiration of the scouting community and a steady rise up the ISS rankings; named best forward on Brynas in the Swedish league in 2005-06 … named best forward on Swedish Under-20 at World Junior Championships … named rookie of the year in the Swedish league in 2005-06 … was named to the Swedish team for the (world championships) in Riga.
NHL Potential: He is a world-class player, the kind of character guy that wins championships.
Style compares to: Peter Forsberg

Red Line Report:
Always plays full throttle with high energy. Runs the PP and directs traffic – a take-charge guy. Sees the ice well and takes hits to make plays. Anticipates well and gets to open ice. Creates lots of chances. Wonderful vision and a variety of touch saucer passes and backhand flips. Goes to net looking for rebounds, competes well at both ends and is strong on faceoffs. Outstanding hockey sense in all zones. Very tricky around net with excellent patience. Antipicates passes and steps in to pick them off and transitions to instant offense. Terrific playmaker with quick stick and hands. Handles tough passes in tight with ease. Keeps feet moving in corners. Leading scorer for Brynas in SEL and was expected to be the team leader at 18, yet was oblivious to any pressure. Played so solid all year against men that he earned a spot on Sweden’s gold medal squad at the World Champs.
Projection: Top line playmaker
Style compares to: Henrik Zetterberg

The Hockey News:
Sweden Elite League’s rookie of the year is often mentioned in the same breath as Peter Forsberg.

It’s not that Nicklas Backstrom is the next Peter Forsberg – if he was he would be the undisputed top pick in the “Class of ’06” – but the way he handles the puck and battles is the reason for the comparison.

Backstrom shows great patience with the puck on his stick. He’ll hesitate for a nano-second before he makes a tape-to-tape pass. “He has great, great hockey sense,” says one scout. “He has great hands and makes great plays.”

Backstrom also played a key role in helping Brynas finish seventh in the Elite league. He also played in Sweden’s elite junior league. “He’s not as tough as Forsberg, but how many players have that skill and are as tough?” said a scout. “He plays heads-up hockey all the time. You see him go into a corner and he comes out with the puck. He has no problems with physical play.”

NHL translation:Offensive forward

Year Team League GM G A PTS PIM PPG SHG GWG SH SH% +/-
2005-06 Brynas IF Gavle SEL 46 10 16 26 30            

 

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