To some, it may seem sacrilegious.
I mean, who other than Wayne Gretzky has the audacity to wear No. 99 in professional hockey?
Nicklas Backstrom, that’s who.
On Monday, the Capitals center made his debut with Dynamo Moscow wearing the Great One’s old number, which was retired by the NHL after Gretzky ended his glorious career.
Backstrom says he chose No. 99 simply because his No. 19 was taken by teammate Denis Kokarev. No. 91 was also taken by teammate Marek Kvapil. For what it’s worth, No. 9 was also taken.
Backstrom did his best Gretzky impersonation, setting up a goal by new/old teammate Alex Ovechkin in Dynamo’s 3-0 win at Lokomotiv Yaroslavl.
Ovechkin was asked about Backstrom’s number before Monday’s game.
“Nicklas told me, ‘I’ll be like Gretzky in Russia,’” Ovechkin told Russian reporters.
When Backstrom was asked if he planned on being the Swedish Gretzky, he replied, “No, the Swedish Backstrom.”
Backstrom is not the only player in the KHL to wear No. 99. In fact he played against another No. 99 in his KHL debut, facing off against Lokomotiv defenseman Alexander Guskov, who also wore No. 99.
As for Ovechkin he climbed to third in the KHL in scoring with six goals and 8 assists for 14 points in 13 games. He trails Ilya Kovalchuk [7-13-20 in 11 games] and Evgeni Malkin [5-12-17 in 13 games].
Defenseman Madison Bowey re-signed with the Capitals on Thursday, inking a two-year extension that will carry an average of $1 million.
Bowey carried a cap charge of $703,333 last season.
The 23-year-old appeared in 51 games for the Caps in 2017-18, amassing 12 assists, 24 penalty minutes and a plus/minus rating of minus-3.
Bowey also suited up in nine contests for AHL Hershey, though he finished the season as one of the Black Aces during Washington's run to the Stanley Cup.
With Bowey back in the fold, the Caps now have six of seven defenseman from last season’s roster under contract. (Veteran Brooks Orpik remains an unrestricted free agent.)
Bowey had an uneven first year in the NHL—he didn’t play following the late-February addition of Michal Kempny—but the Caps expect that the 6-2, 198-pound right-shot blue liner will become reliable full-time player with more seasoning.
Bowey’s deal leaves Tom Wilson as the Caps' only remaining unsigned restricted free agent. The sides are in discussions on a multi-year extension.
Including Bowey’s extension, the Caps have roughly $7.3 million in salary cap space remaining, according to www.capfriendly.com.
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