Nicklas Backstrom had an off-year in 2019-20, but we’re not worried.
|19.0||time on ice per game|
|52.4||5-on-5 shot-attempt percentage, adjusted|
|53.9||5-on-5 expected goal percentage, adjusted|
|49.7||5-on-5 goal percentage, adjusted|
About this visualization: This series of charts made by Micah Blake McCurdy of hockeyviz.com shows lots of information for the player over the season. A short description of each chart:
Nicklas Backstrom kicked off the annus horribilis with a huge new contract that’ll see him paid 9.2 million dollars through the next five seasons. I see that deal and Carlson’s deal as twin prologues for the real “sentimental” deal we’ll see with Alex Ovechkin later this year, a series of contracts that will change who the Caps are without changing their roster, if you know what I mean. At age 32, Backstrom is already far past his peak years, and his 2019-20 outing does not bode awesome for the future at first glance.
Here’s Backstrom’s all-situation point production over the last five seasons, with a big caveat on 19-20, of which Backstrom missed eight games before the pause cost him the last 13.
The big drop-off is in goals, but it’s lying to you. Backstrom’s individual rates during five-on-five (shots on goal, shots attempted, expected goals) stayed almost even from previous seasons; it was just his shooting percentage that dropped to six percent. He had not been below 10 percent since Oates seasons.
The same effect hit Backstrom on the power play, where he’s still the power behind the throne — he’s stronger and more important on the half wall than Carlson is on the point in my opinion — but his shooting percentage nosedived while his attempt rates actually ticked up slightly.
So Backstrom had a bad-luck season right as he signed a big new contract and while the Caps were under a lot of scrutiny. I’m not worried. As folks have said for a long time, the things that Backstrom does well also tend to age well. He doesn’t have speed, but he never really had speed to begin with. He’s still a world-class passer and playmaker, an essential part of the still-good power play (yes), and one of the strongest puck-carriers in the league. It might be time for the Caps to carry — and I hope you’re sitting down for this — a second center capable of carrying top-six minutes and taking faceoffs, but we can talk about that more on [checks calendar] Friday, September 18.
For now, tough season for Nicky. Oh well. It happens. He’ll be fine. Go next.
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Are you worried about Nicky? Are you an Ovi-Kuzy or Ovi-Backy person? How will your expectations for him change as his AAV goes up?
Read more: Japers Rink
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