Nicklas Backstrom wasn’t named to the All-Star Game. But the Caps center has put himself in the hunt for his first career Art Ross Trophy.
Since Jan. 1, no player in the NHL has produced as many points as Backstrom, who has amassed 27 of them (seven goals and 20 assists) to move into a tie for third place with 57.
Over the course of his NHL career, Backstrom has never finished higher than fourth in points (101 points in 2009-10).
“He probably goes under a lot of people’s radar [regarding] how good of a season he’s having,” fellow center Lars Eller said. “But Nick is not just a good offensive player, he’s just an all-around terrific player. He’s the No. 1 center on the top team in the league right now, so you really shouldn’t be too surprised.”
Although it’s not a shock to see Backstrom’s name among the leaders given his prolific history and how well the Caps are playing, it’s hard to dispute the fact that he’s done it quietly.
Quiet “sort of describes Nicklas Backstrom’s career: outstanding numbers every year, very efficient, quietly gets it done under the radar,” Caps Coach Barry Trotz said after Friday’s practice. “Then you look up and go, ‘Hey, Backy’s [tied for third] in scoring.’ It happens very quietly.”
During Washington’s current five-game winning streak, Backstrom has three goals and six assists—more than any other Caps player.
“Last night [against Detroit] he efficiently got three points, was a plus-3 and you didn’t really notice that,” Trotz said.
As this season enters its home stretch, Brad Marchand and Brent Burns also have 57 points. Meanwhile, Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid are tied for the league lead with 60 apiece.
So Backstrom’s got his work cut out. But he’s got a chance.