The Backstrom period continues for the Capitals…and the Holtby period is nearly over

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Backstrom, one of many biggest gamers in Capitals historical past, most likely will not be a $9.2-million participant by the top of his new deal, however he ought to age gracefully. HIs new contract all however nudges goalie Holtby out the door, nevertheless. Nicklas Backstrom and Braden Holtby|Fred Kfoury III/Getty ImagesNicklas Backstrom spent the primary half of 2019-20 as a pending UFA, however there was no looming hazard of him departing the Washington Capitals, the one NHL group he’s ever recognized. He’d made it clear he wished to re-sign there, and the curiosity was clearly mutual between the Caps and their all-time assists chief.
So the announcement of Backstrom’s five-year, $46-million extension Tuesday morning felt like a formality.
What feels removed from a formality, fittingly sooner or later after Ilya Samsonov’s first profession shutout, is a Braden Holtby extension. If the writing had been on the wall for the franchise goaltender’s future in his UFA stroll yr, the Backstrom contract, coupled with Samsonov’s emergence as a rookie netminder, turned that writing on the wall right into a mural.
The Backstrom contract was the simple half for GM Brian MacLellan. On prime of main the franchise in profession assists with 668, Backstrom sits second all-time in factors with 908. Since his rookie season, 2007-08, he has 33 assists greater than another NHLer, and he’s fifth in factors behind Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane and Evgeni Malkin. Backstrom has performed within the shadow of that quartet however, within the eyes of anybody who values consistency and longevity as a lot as particular person accolades, Backstrom is inching towards Corridor of Fame consideration.
As a result of he debuted within the NHL at 19, he’s not as historic as he could seem given his prolonged listing of accomplishments. When his new contract commences in 2020-21, carrying a $9.2-million AAV, he’ll nonetheless be 32, which means he’ll be 37 on the finish of the contract, which isn’t disastrous. His cerebral sport is tailor-made to age properly. He’s been a optimistic possession participant at 5-on-5 in 12 of his 14 seasons, together with 5 of his previous six. Throughout the earlier three seasons, amongst 414 forwards with 1,000 or extra minutes at 5-on-5, Backstrom ranked within the prime third in Corsi For per 60 and Scoring Probabilities For per 60. The Capitals are a lot better with him on the ice than with out. He was 13th in complete assists per 60 amongst that group of 414, 36th in first assists per 60 and 35th in factors per 60. His two-way metrics graded out as nearer to common ­– however that’s commendable given his high quality of competitors. Over the earlier three seasons, his commonest opponents confronted embody elite 200-foot facilities Sean Couturier (most minutes amongst any ahead towards Backstrom at 5-on-5) and Aleksander Barkov (fourth most).
The information isn’t all good – Backstrom’s particular person scoring and help charges have reached all-time lows this season – however simply since you age gracefully doesn’t imply you don’t age in any respect. He’ll clearly decline over the course of his new contract. It’s perceived as a crucial evil in right now’s NHL to reward your biggest gamers for what they’ve finished fairly than what they’re going to do. Backstrom received’t be a $9.2-million participant over the course of his contract, however he was for a lot of his final contract, throughout which he was a cut price.
The key query now’s whether or not the Backstrom deal all however ensures the Caps don’t pay Holtby for what he’s finished, which incorporates backstopping the 2017-18 squad to the Stanley Cup and successful the 2015-16 Vezina Trophy. If the wage cap have been to remain at $81.5 million for 2020-21, Washington would have $10.39 million obtainable. It wouldn’t have any main bank-breaking RFAs to fret about – amongst them Travis Boyd, Brendan Leipsic and Jonas Siegenthaler. However with Ovechkin (UFA) and breakout scorer Jakub Vrana (RFA) getting into the ultimate seasons of their contracts in 2020-21, they’ll be eligible to signal extensions by July 1, 2020. They must take precedence over Holtby, whose expertise and particular person accolades ought to permit him to command a large increase on his $6.1-million AAV. It’s no shock that Holtby and the Caps have postponed any contract talks till the low season.
On prime of Holtby’s contract showing to not jive with the longer term cap plans for Ovechkin and Vrana, Samsonov’s play is making MacLellan’s resolution simpler by the day. Now 13-2-1 with a 2.11 goals-against common and .925 save share, the very best goalie prospect on the planet has graduated from that distinction and crept into the Calder Trophy race. He’s bested Holtby in each class conceivable. At 5-on-5, that features save share, high-danger save share and rebound makes an attempt towards per 60. Holtby has confronted a more durable workload – roughly two pictures and one high-danger shot towards greater than Samsonov per 60 minutes – however that doesn’t account for the hole between them. Holtby has graded out as a below-average netminder this season, rating 51st in objectives saved above common per 60 amongst 59 goalies with not less than 500 minutes at 5-on-5. Samsonov ranks seventh. It’s been no contest.
So whereas the Capitals have a good time certainly one of their all-time nice gamers with a contract announcement right now, there’s a touch of bittersweetness behind it, as one other certainly one of their biggest gamers inches nearer to the door. It’ll be unhappy for some Caps followers to say goodbye to Holtby – however the resolution would be the proper one. The Samsonov period has arrived.
(All superior statistics by way of NaturalStatTrick)
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Tags: free company, goaltending, washington capitals, nhlConnect: Concerning the AuthorMatt LarkinMatt Larkin is a senior author at The Hockey Information and has been a part of the group since 2011. He is your one-stop store for deep-dive participant interviews, predictions, statistics, fantasy participant rankings, participant security and hair suggestions. Catch him weekly as host of The Hockey Information Stay and The Hockey Information Podcast.

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