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Backstrom signs five-year, $46 million contract with Capitals

Center, who could have become unrestricted free agent July 1, negotiated deal

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- Nicklas Backstrom signed a five-year, $46 million contract with the Washington Capitals on Tuesday. It has an average annual value of $9.2 million.

The center could have become an unrestricted free agent July 1 but the 32-year-old said he had no interest in playing elsewhere.

"You are recognized when you are with the same team for a long time and that is what I want to be," Backstrom said. "I am a born and raised Capital and that is where I want to finish. I couldn't see myself in another jersey and I don't want to play for another team, so fortunately, very fortunate to be able to sign a new contract."

Backstrom, who negotiated his contract without an agent, is in the final season of a 10-year, $67 million contract. ($6.7 million AAV) he signed May 17, 2010. His new contract runs through the end of the 2024-25 NHL season, when he will be 37 years old.

Video: WSH@PHI: Backstrom finishes off the feed from Wilson

Backstrom has 35 points (nine goals, 26 assists) in 39 games this season, and Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said he believes he'll continue to be a top player because of his style of play.

"He's a player that thinks the game well," MacLellan said. "His game is not based on speed. It's more being in the right spot, making the right play, reading what's going on on the ice. He's in the right spots, understands the game, understands how to make players better. He's a playmaker, he's a first power-play guy. I think those skills that he has age well and he'll be able to produce in his late 30s."

Backstrom said he doesn't have any intention to retire when the new contract expires.

"But I mean, it is a good start," Backstrom said. "We will see what the team wants after that."

Selected by Washington with the No. 4 pick in the 2006 NHL Draft, Backstrom is second in Capitals history to forward Alex Ovechkin with 908 points (240 goals, 668 assists) in 934 games (Ovechkin has 1,255 points; 686 goals, 569 assists). Backstrom is the Capitals' all-time leader in assists and is the only active player in the NHL with at least 50 assists in six consecutive seasons.

Since his NHL debut on Oct. 5, 2007, Backstrom leads the NHL in assists even though he ranks 17th in games played during that span. He has had at least 60 assists five times, including an NHL career-high 68 in 2009-10.

Backstrom is second to Ovechkin in Capitals history with 106 points (36 goals, 70 assists) in 123 Stanley Cup Playoff games (Ovechkin has 126 points; 65 goals, 61 assists). Backstrom had 23 points (five goals, 18 assists) in 20 games in the 2018 postseason, when Washington won its first Stanley Cup championship.

Video: WSH@NJD: Backstrom pots second goal with quick shot

Backstrom said Ovechkin asked him almost daily about how contract negotiations were going and was excited when he told him Monday that the deal was done.

"He came up and gave me a big hug," Backstrom said. "So that was very nice of him and he's been interested in what's going on. … So he was happy, and I'm happy about this. I'm happy to stick around. Great group of guys in the locker room and hopefully we've got something special here."

Backstrom said negotiations, which began in October, took place over a series of seven or eight meetings. Some of the meetings took place at hotels when the Capitals were on the road or in MacLellan's office after practices.

MacLellan described Backstrom the agent as similar to Backstrom the player.

"I think you could tell his personality traits on the ice, they translate off the ice," MacLellan said. "You know, he's effective, he observes things well. He reads body language. He did good, I think. A really good job."

Video: Backstrom inks a 5-year extension with the Caps

Backstrom had an attorney look over the paperwork when the contract was finished.

"I never brought any paperwork in there," Backstrom said. "Honestly, I didn't care about the numbers. I knew what I was worth and that's what I told them. With the number situation, we settled pretty quick."

Backstrom said previously that negotiations were not a distraction but acknowledged Tuesday that he was glad to get them completed before the end of the season.

"I was just thinking to myself I was happy and relieved at the same time," he said. "I'm telling you guys I'm not thinking about it, but at the end of the day when you're playing you still have it in the back of your head, 'What's going to happen? Am I going somewhere else?'

"You don't want to, but that's just part of the process. Now when it's over, I'm just happy that it's done."

Backstrom can now concentrate on helping Washington try to win the Stanley Cup. The Capitals (31-11-5) led the Metropolitan Division with 67 points.

"The main reason that I wanted to stay here is we have a chance to win again," Backstrom said. "As a hockey player, that's all you think about. You want to win hockey games and you want to win championships. That's where we're at. We have great organization, great fans and hopefully we can just give them another championship."

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