The Washington Capitals have seen several of their stars hit big career accomplishments this season. Alex Ovechkin recently scored his 718th goal moving him to sixth all-time in goals and tallied 1,300 points. Zdeno Chara turned 44 on March 18 and is now only the fourth defenseman in NHL history to play until that age.
Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom also hit a few big milestones of his own.
On March 5, Backstrom became the 54th player in NHL history to record 700 assists after finding Jakub Vrana for a goal against the Bruins. The apple allowed Backstrom to join a list that consisted almost entirely of Hockey Hall of Famers.
Nicklas Backstrom is the first player in franchise history and the 54th player in NHL history to reach the 700-assist milestone. He is the second fastest active player (Sidney Crosby: 856 GP) and the 23rd-fastest player in NHL history to reach the mark in his 979th career game. pic.twitter.com/uMbqDlP9Cs
— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) March 6, 2021
Earlier this week, Backstrom also passed Calle Johansson for the second-most games played in franchise history.
Nicklas Backstrom will play in his 984th career game tonight against Buffalo, passing Calle Johansson (983 games) for the second-most games played in franchise history. pic.twitter.com/GXPAZ9Hyd0
— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) March 15, 2021
Looking forward, Backstrom has several big milestones that he could reach either this season or next. In 15 games, Backstrom will become the 349th player in NHL history to play in 1,000 games, according to Wikipedia. If Backstrom misses no time before then, he would play the milestone game against the Buffalo Sabres on April 15. The Swedish center would be only the 36th player to do so for only one franchise.
As for points, Backstrom will move into sixth as the NHL’s greatest Swedish-born scorer with his next goal or assist. Backstrom, who has 960 points currently, would pass his childhood hero, Henrik Zetterberg. Backstrom trails only the Sedin twins, Nicklas Lidstrom, Daniel Alfredsson, and Mats Sundin on the list.
Screenshot courtesy of Quant Hockey
After that, Backstrom would set his eyes on point number 1,000, which would be another major feather in his cap for a possible enshrinement in Toronto when he retires. Backstrom sits 40 points away from the mark. If he keeps the same pace as this season — averaging a little over a point per game with 27 games left to go in the season — Backstrom would fall just short of the mark this season and likely hit the milestone in October or November of next season.
When Backstrom hits 1,000 points, he would become the 91st player in NHL history to reach the elusive number — though Anze Kopitar (984 points) and Ryan Getzlaf (977) are still active and could hit the mark sooner.
If Backstrom stays healthy for the next four seasons, he projects to end his career with around 1,200 to 1,300 points.
Some national analysts might scoff at Backstrom’s credentials for a HHOF nod, but they’ll likely reconsider over the next few seasons. Backstrom helped Ovechkin become one of the greatest goal-scorers in NHL history and the two won a Stanley Cup together in 2018. Once Backstrom reaches these other milestones, he will further come out of Ovechkin’s shadow and be one of the greatest centers to ever play the game when he hangs up his skates. We’ve been lucky to see Ovi play, but we should be just as appreciative that we got to see Nicke lace ’em up every night too.
Headline photo: Cara Bahniuk/RMNB
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