Capitals Re-sign Nicklas Backstrom
The Washington Capitals re-signed Nicklas Backstrom to a five-year, $46-million contract extension. The 32-year-old center was slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. The annual average value is $9.2 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt anyone’s surprised the Capitals decided to keep Backstrom in the fold. Like Alex Ovechkin, he’s a key part of their roster core and leadership group. He’s also the second longest-serving active member of their roster next to Ovechkin. He’s their all-time assist leader (668) and a model of consistency, reaching or exceeding 65 points in 10 of the last 12 seasons. With 35 points in 39 games, he could do it again this season.
According to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, the contract breakdown is as follows: “$6 million signing bonus and $6 million salary in 2020-21, $5 million signing bonus and $5 million salary in 2021-22, $3 million signing bonus and $3 million salary in 2022-23, $5 million signing bonus and $5 million salary in 2023-24 and $6 million signing bonus and a $2 million salary in 2024-25. In total, he will be paid $25 million in signing bonuses.”
Backstrom’s getting a nice pay raise over his current $6.7 million annual average value. Some will argue the Capitals are spending too much for too long on an aging asset. There is some risk involved, but with the Capitals still considered a Stanley Cup contender, it’s one management felt willing to take. If he can maintain a reasonably productive pace through most of that period, it could prove worthwhile.
This signing raises questions over how much it’ll cost the Capitals to keep Ovechkin, whose current deal expires at the end of 2020-21. He’s averaged over $9.5 million annually and remains among the league’s elite scorers. If he remains a Richard Trophy contender, It could cost over $10 million annually to keep Ovie in Washington.
With over $71 million invested in 16 players following Backstrom’s signing, the Capitals won’t have much salary-cap room to re-sign long-time starting goaltender Braden Holtby. Assuming the cap rises to $84 million, they’ll have around $13 million left with Holtby and Radko Gudas as their remaining UFAs. Unless Holtby’s willing to accept a hometown discount, this is probably his final season with the Capitals.