WASHINGTON, D.C. — On March 9 in Alberta, Nicklas Backstrom hit a major career milestone in classic Nicklas Backstrom fashion. On a great stretch pass to T.J. Oshie, Backstrom recorded point No. 1,000 on a primary assist for the Washington Capitals against the Edmonton Oilers.
The humble Swede was lowkey when it came to the accomplishment, and though he’s not flashy and tries not to flaunt his ability, the Capitals will honor No. 19 with a pregame ceremony prior to Saturday’s tilt against the New Jersey Devils.
“It means a lot, it’s a big milestone,” Backstrom said modestly of his milestone.
Over the course of his 15-year NHL career, Backstrom has quietly been one of the league’s most dynamic and lethal players on the ice. His accomplishments often go hand-in-hand with teammate and good friend Alex Ovechkin, but he has accumulated quite a few individual accolades over the course of his NHL career while establishing him as one of the league’s elite players. Still, he doesn’t take center stage — in fact, on some level, he may try and avoid the attention.
“I think that’s kind of the way Nick likes it,” T.J. Oshie noted. “He’s not a guy that likes the spotlight, per se. He likes to shine the light kind of on other guys. That’s why he’s such an unselfish teammate… I think he enjoys getting other guys goals, he enjoys making plays to set up goals… Not many get to 1,000 points.”
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in 1,044 NHL games, Backstrom has accumulated 1,004 points — 741 of those are assists. He is just the second player in Capitals history to hit the 1,000-point mark and the 40th player in league history to record 1K points with one team, as well as just the sixth Swedish player to hit that mark. His .96 points per game rank second of all-time among Swedes, trailing only Mats Sundin.
“You see the plays that he makes, and I think you see the offense that he brings to the table. His hockey IQ is through the roof. He sees things offensively, he sees things defensively. He’s a really good leader for this team,” head coach Peter Laviolette said of No. 19. “Again, he brings a lot to the table. You see the plays, you see the goals, you see what he does. But then you see the impact of him from a defensive standpoint as a leader and over the course of his career pretty consistent with it, the consistency of that. So that’s unbelievable, the career that he’s had… reaching 1000 points for anybody is a tremendous accomplishment.”
Not only does Backstrom bring a lot to the table on the ice, but he is also a player who brings a lot of leadership and energy to the locker room and can help lead by example.
“His presence huge, right? In locker room, everywhere… As soon as you see him before the game in the locker room, it’s mental thing a little bit,” Evgeny Kuznetsov said of Backstrom.
In the end, Backstrom’s teammates are excited to celebrate with him on Saturday and continue to be impressed as he continues his monumental career, especially after having overcome a lingering hip injury that sidelined him for the first few months of the season. The team and league are presenting him with gifts to commemorate the accomplishment. Capital One Arena is also giving away squishy “NIKY” apples to pay tribute to the playmaker.
“What an amazing achievement. Guys just hope to play a game in this league… 1,000 [points], that’s only for the few elite,’ Oshie said. “It’s super impressive and the boys and myself especially are super happy for nick on this accomplishment. Obviously, there’s gonna be many more. Very very impressive.”