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Backstrom’s Actions Speak Loud, But So Do His Words

May 18th, 2017 at 1:49 PM
Aggregated By Sports Media 101

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Since his name was called to the stage of General Motors Place in Vancouver by Alex Ovechkin, it was very clear what type of player Nicklas Backstrom would become.

Ovechkin was always the exuberant one, never afraid to jump in front of a microphone and spout off whatever came to mind, generally leading to everyone collectively laughing with his antics. Backstrom, on the other hand, was quiet, reserved, and maybe at times even a little bit awkward.

That contrast in personalities has always worked well in Backstrom’s favor. Always one to stay out of the spotlight (something this site has made light of in the past), the Washington Capitals have never been considered his team, Backstrom’s team in the sense that the franchise revolves around him.

As Ovechkin began to stack 50-goal seasons year after year, often highlighted by unthinkable displays of skill and raw, passionate celebrations, Backstrom quietly performed in the background with a workman-like attitude. Three-point night? It’s his job to score. 60-assist season? It’s what is expected from him.

But if he truly likes to play behind the scenes, it has become impossible for him to hide behind the curtain. With 86 total points on the year, his most in his last seven seasons, Backstrom finished fourth in the league in the respective category. Just a few seasons ago, Backstrom was harmoniously hailed as the NHL’s most underrated player (a moniker he is surely pleased with), but that status has begun to quiet. Truth of the matter is, more and more people are beginning to realize just how talented Backstrom truly is.

According to The Hockey News, Nolan Patrick, the center for the Brandon Wheat Kings that is projected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming NHL draft, claims that he watches highlights of three different players to further craft his game: Anze Kopitar, Jamie Benn and Backstrom. He dissects Kopitar’s game for his elite two-way play. He observes Benn’s goal scoring prowess and his ability to drive towards the net. He follows Backstrom for his keen vision and playmaking ability. In reality, Patrick could watch Backstrom to learn about all three qualities.

Much is known and made of Backstrom’s ability, but there’s a sense of unfamiliarity among the league about how talented Backstrom is in his defensive zone.

Since entering the league in 2007, Backstrom has never finished higher than 10th in the Selke Trophy voting, where he finished with one first place vote, three second place votes, one third place vote, four fourth place votes and three fifth place votes in the 2009-10 season. Prior to Barry Trotz’s arrival and excluding the 2009-10 season, Backstrom received four total votes in six seasons, just one for first place.

But Backstrom has begun to get some credit since he’s had Trotz in his corner. Over the last two seasons, Backstrom has finished 11th and 12th in voting, and it’s entirely possible he finishes a bit …

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